British officials seek access to Cambridge Analytica office

Data firm implicated in breach of thousands of Facebook users’ data in efforts to sway elections
LONDON: The U.K.’s information commissioner said Tuesday she will seek a warrant to search the offices of the London headquarters of controversial data analytics firm Cambridge Analytica.
“We need to look at the databases and servers, and understand how the data was processed or deleted,” Elizabeth Denham said.
Denham’s remarks came after an alleged data breach of thousands of Facebook users by Cambridge Analytica came to the surface in various media reports.
“Facebook and Cambridge Analytica is only one strand of our investigation. Our investigation involves more than 30 organizations,” she added.
Cambridge Analytica is at the center of data breach allegations since a former employee, Christopher Wylie, went public to tell how he built software to influence voters’ choices.
British daily The Observer newspaper and The New York Times reported on Saturday that the company used personal information of 50,000 Facebook users to influence the US presidential election in 2016 on behalf of Donald Trump.
-Politicians seek answers
In an undercover investigation by Channel 4 news, company executives are shown discussing the use of “honey traps” and potentially bribery to influence elections around the world.
In footage shown by the channel, a reporter poses as a Sri Lankan politician wanting to influence a local election. Alexander Nix, the firm’s CEO, is caught on camera saying: “Send some girls around the candidate’s house.”
The company denied all the allegations, calling the report “grossly misrepresented.”
Following the allegations, Facebook shares dropped more than 6 percent.
Politicians worldwide are demanding Facebook explain how the data of millions of users were gathered. Facebook has denied the data breach claims and suspended Cambridge Analytica’s pages on its platforms.
A spokesperson for British Prime Minister Theresa May on Monday called the allegations “very concerning,” and added, “It is essential that people can have confidence that their personal data will be protected and used in an appropriate way.”
The head of the European Parliament announced that the EU would investigate whether the data was misused.
Meanwhile, a select committee from the British parliament asked Facebook founder Mark Zuckerberg to give evidence. He is being asked to appear before the digital, cultural, media and sport committee.–AA

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