Top British privacy watchdog gets warrant to search Cambridge Analytica offices

Top British privacy watchdog gets warrant to search Cambridge Analytica offices
© Greg Nash

The United Kingdom's top privacy watchdog on Friday was granted a warrant to search the offices of Cambridge Analytica after recent news reports revealed the firm obtained data from millions of Facebook users without their consent or knowledge.

The Information Commissioner’s Office (ICO) tweeted that officials were "pleased" to be granted the warrant to investigate Cambridge Analytica's dealings.

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"We’re pleased with the decision of the judge and we plan to execute the warrant shortly. This is just one part of a larger investigation into the use of personal data for political purposes and we will now need time to collect and consider the evidence," the ICO tweeted.

The ICO, headed by an information commissioner appointed by the British Crown, has the power to levy fines against companies that misuse customers' personal data and information, among other authorities.

In 2013, the office levied a fine of 250,000 pounds against tech giant Sony after the company was the target of a data breach that exposed names, payment information and other personal information of Sony Playstation users. The ICO found that Sony had obtained an improper amount of data from customers, and had not secured its systems properly.

Cambridge Analytica was accused this week of obtaining the Facebook data of roughly 50 million Americans through Facebook without their knowledge or consent by utilizing the friend networks of a smaller group of users who gave data willingly to the firm.

The data served as a crucial part of the Trump campaign and was founded by former White House chief strategist Stephen Bannon, billionaire right-wing donor Robert Mercer and CEO Alexander Nix in 2013.