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Cambridge Analytica Shuts Down Amid Scandal Over Use of Facebook Data (gizmodo.com) 67

Gizmodo reports that Cambridge Analytica and its parent company, the SCL Group, are shutting down. "The news was announced during a conference call led by Julian Wheatland, the current chairman of the SCL Group who was reportedly tapped to take over as Cambridge Analytica's next CEO," reports Gizmodo. "Both Cambridge Analytica and SCL Elections will now close their doors." From the report: During the call, Wheatland said that the board determined that rebranding the company's current offerings in the current environment is "futile." Cambridge Analytica and SCL have offices in London, New York City, Arlington, Virginia, and Washington, D.C. The conference call was originally scheduled for Tuesday morning, but was repeatedly pushed back until early Wednesday afternoon, ultimately getting rescheduled more than half a dozen times. In explaining the decision to close the offices, Wheatland cited the ongoing investigations into Cambridge Analytica's massive data harvesting scandal, damage to the company's reputation, and loss of clients. In March, Britain's information commissioner announced that she was seeking a warrant to investigate any misconduct by the data analytics firm, looking to search both its offices and its servers. UK authorities raided the London office later that month, but have yet to release their findings. Meanwhile, embattled former CEO Alexander Nix refused to testify before the British Parliamentary media committee regarding the firm's misuse of Facebook user data.
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Cambridge Analytica Shuts Down Amid Scandal Over Use of Facebook Data

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  • Shutdown? No. (Score:5, Insightful)

    by Arbitary5664 ( 1979712 ) on Wednesday May 02, 2018 @06:02PM (#56543826)
    These people will just start a new business and rehire the core team. Watch.
    • Re:Shutdown? No. (Score:5, Informative)

      by Len ( 89493 ) on Wednesday May 02, 2018 @06:07PM (#56543852)

      These people will just start a new business and rehire the core team. Watch.

      And here it is: http://www.theregister.co.uk/2018/05/02/cambridge_analytica_shutdown/ [theregister.co.uk]

    • Re:Shutdown? No. (Score:5, Insightful)

      by Anubis IV ( 1279820 ) on Wednesday May 02, 2018 @06:40PM (#56543990)

      Came here to say just this. It'll be a shutdown, followed by a sell-off to a "completely different" company that is actually just the same people doing the same thing.

      • Re:Shutdown? No. (Score:5, Insightful)

        by rtb61 ( 674572 ) on Wednesday May 02, 2018 @11:53PM (#56545072) Homepage

        Not a shutdown, oh no, they are declaring bankruptcies to fend off civil suits, bankrupting companies, sticking people with bad debt and making sure they can not be sued, just normal operations for companies run by psychopaths. No shame, no sense of guilt, just more corruption on top of past corruption to lead to even more corruption. Of course if all of this can be proved to be purposeful with intent to defraud and hide income in tax havens, than those who run the companies can be targeted and if they are not, a sure and solid line of corruption to governments of the day, pretty much become self evident.

      • Re:Shutdown? No. (Score:4, Informative)

        by Xest ( 935314 ) on Thursday May 03, 2018 @04:01AM (#56545524)

        Fortunately UK data protection law allows individuals to be held to account, so shutting down the company doesn't absolve the people who ran it of responsibility. They can still be held individually accountable for illegality relating to personal data at a company they worked at. The fact the company has gone doesn't matter, and the ICO have made this clear themselves in a statement - they're not going to stop just because the company has shut down.

        All new companies processing such data have to register with the Information Commissioners Office too, it's a criminal offence not to do so. As such the ICO will know if they're having another go and can audit them regularly based on past behavior and ensure compliance, or fine for non-compliance.

        So whilst I agree, there's no doubt they'll try again, it's possible that the ICO will still file criminal proceedings against them, and if they're found guilty they may be banned from running or being director at a company for some time.

        As such, I wouldn't assume they've got away with it, the ICO will take time to build their case and pursue them, but it'll happen if there's illegality.

        It's also noting that GDPR becomes law this month too, so they'll be held to even higher standards which will basically make it impossible to do even much of the legal stuff they did before, much less the illegal - not simply because there are tougher laws that affect them directly, but because companies around them will be held to GDPR which will make it much harder for CA to acquire data in the first place even if they're operating outside the law themselves.

    • Exactly. You can see it from their press release. The new business will more or less discreetly tell the potential clients they are former CA, implying that they helped "change history", however implausible that is. They will keep the subject alive as they only profit from people talking about it.

      But then you have to admit their marketing is brilliant, and for that reason they indeed are worth hiring.

    • by gweihir ( 88907 )

      Obviously. Different name, same old despicable services.

    • by mjwx ( 966435 )

      These people will just start a new business and rehire the core team. Watch.

      Yep, likely to be reborn as something like Oxford Logica.

      In the UK, the process of dissolving and reforming a company, usually to avoid debts, is called "phoenixing". Sadly the law seems to do little about it, even the HMRC (tax dept) only makes a half-hearted effort.

  • by Kenja ( 541830 ) on Wednesday May 02, 2018 @06:05PM (#56543842)
    I mean, sure they use discredited pseudoscience to claim to be able to provide consumer predictions that they have never been able to back up with results, but that's beside the point!
    • by Anonymous Coward
      their results speak for themselves. look who won the election.
      • by Anonymous Coward

        So Cambridge Analytica are responsible for Hillary Clinton's campaign. Wierd.

    • by Anonymous Coward

      I'm sure that If I had access to all your Facebook data that there's no way that lowly ol' Anonymous me could influence your thinking. Nope. No way.

    • Re: (Score:2, Insightful)

      by AmiMoJo ( 196126 )

      You just described the entire advertising business.

  • by Zorro ( 15797 ) on Wednesday May 02, 2018 @06:07PM (#56543850)

    Dirty Deeds Done Dirt Cheap!

  • Sale (Score:5, Interesting)

    by 110010001000 ( 697113 ) on Wednesday May 02, 2018 @06:15PM (#56543886) Homepage Journal
    Are they having a 50% off going-out-of-business sale for all of your data?
    • Re: (Score:3, Interesting)

      by GregMmm ( 5115215 )

      Absolutely! They have to. If this is an asset (which this data most certainly is) they it must be auctioned off to pay off debt. At this point the data is just like a chair they own in the office.

      By the way, it will be the highest bidder, so if it's 50% off that after they marked it up 100%!!

      • Re: (Score:2, Interesting)

        by AmiMoJo ( 196126 )

        That data is worthless right now, because it is under active investigation by the ICO. Anyone who bought it would instantly become part of that investigation.

  • by GregMmm ( 5115215 ) on Wednesday May 02, 2018 @06:32PM (#56543952)

    Doesn't anyone wonder if there are more "Cambridge Analyticas" out there? Don't tell me Facebook only allowed this to happen with one company. Think of all the money to be made.

    Ever wonder why Cambridge Analytica is the bad guy when Facebook allowed this to happen?

    • by Mashiki ( 184564 )

      Sure. We already know that during both elections for Obama, they got access to the data through a 1st party pulling the same slop like CA did. Far as people can figure from the DNC leaks, there was an unnamed company involved for Hillary too. The difference is, when it was the democrats doing it was fine. But when a company did the same for the RNC and Trump it was a big deal.

    • by Darkling-MHCN ( 222524 ) on Thursday May 03, 2018 @03:10AM (#56545418)

      Anyone could have done what Cambridge Analytica did....

      You just need a Facebook account, agree (and ignore) a few Facebook TOS and you're good to go, you can start creating Facebook apps today.

      What you can't do now which Cambridge Analytica did, is use the Facebook Graph API that was available before 2014 which gave developers far more liberties than Facebook ever should have allowed.

      The major issue has been lack of oversight, Facebook makes no review of the systems it grants access to. The liberties that developers still have, present a tangible risk to people's privacy. Facebook is still relying on their users having some discretion and not just run around granting everything access to their Facebook.

      So yes I imagine there are tens of thousands of entities out there using similar tricks with Facebook that Cambridge Analytica used. I doubt many of these companies have links to current and former members of the intelligence community and are using the data to distort the democratic process like Cambridge Analytica did. At least they're no where near as successful as Cambridge Analytica was.

      Of course as linked here Cambridge Analytica is now Emerdata [theregister.co.uk] so there's at least one company that still exists that's exactly like Cambridge Analytica.

  • by GlennC ( 96879 ) on Wednesday May 02, 2018 @07:55PM (#56544402)

    A new company called "Oxford Interpretive" announces their opening. The founders and officers have familiar names.

    • by Anonymous Coward

      Six months? Six hours.

    • by Anonymous Coward

      FYI, they actually called it Emerdata [wikipedia.org].

  • nobody will care or may even praise how innovative you are.
  • But all the assets, including the stolen data has already been siphoned off to another, currently unknown, entity already protected under LLC covers.

    It will be the same shit, different name.

    • by Anonymous Coward
      unknown? no it is very well known. owned and run by the same people are even housed in the same building.
  • by sproketboy ( 608031 ) on Thursday May 03, 2018 @05:26AM (#56545654)

    FTFA

  • CA's board has likely moved most of the assets of CA into a shell company and will wind down CA stiffing creditors and investors. The shell company will continue the rape of privacy for profit of Facebook, Twitter and others users like others are doing right now.

    You can try and make this illegal and in some ways it already is but this is ineffective, the lure of big ad and big gov dollars is too strong. The only effective method of dealing with this is not to use the service.

    "The question isn't, 'What do

"We don't care. We don't have to. We're the Phone Company."

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