Cambridge Analytica’s harvest of Facebook data had no impact on the UK Brexit referendum, as the data tended to target US rather than UK voters, according to a research.
According to a report by the Information Commissioner’s Office (ICO), parent company SCL and Global Science Research, which received data from Facebook users and their friends through a quiz app, appeared to have considered targeting UK voters but abandoned the idea.
“From my review of the research material, I have found no further evidence to change my earlier view that SCL / CA was not involved in the EU referendum campaign in the UK – other than some initial SCL / CA inquiries into it on UKIP data in the early stages of the referendum, “writes Information Commissioner Elizabeth Denham.
“This area of work does not seem to have been advanced by SCL / CA then.”
The report concludes a three-year investigation that raided the Cambridge Analytica offices in 2018. It has been alleged that under Russian influence, the companies tried to get the UK to vote to leave the European Union.
The ICO has confirmed that it has found evidence of poor data processing practices, where data was stored in multiple locations and shared through personal Gmail accounts.
However, it is said that Cambridge Analytica made some effort to clear the data when Facebook was asked to do so in 2016. Ironically, the company’s claim to have 5,000 data points for each of 230 million adult Americans proved to be a huge exaggeration.
Regarding evidence of Russia’s participation in the Brexit referendum, the ICO said it was not qualified to comment, adding that it had already handed over evidence to the National Crime Agency.
“What is clear is that the use of digital campaign techniques is an integral part of our elections and the broader democratic process and will continue to grow in the future. The COVID-19 pandemic will likely only accelerate this process as political parties and parties.” Campaigns aim to engage with voters in a safe and socially distant way, “says Denham.
“New technology enables political parties and others to connect with a wide range of communities and hard-to-reach groups in ways that traditional campaigning methods alone cannot. However, for this to be successful, citizens must have confidence in the art and way their data have been used to get in touch with them. “