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UK demands US data from Cambridge Analytica in landmark privacy ruling

Cambridge Analytica
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Can companies handling user data be forced to give up information on people in the US through regulations in the UK? That's the question being tested by the UK's Information Commissioner's Office (ICO), which has demanded that Cambridge Analytica agent SCL Elections Limited hand over everything it has on file for American professor David Carroll.

Carroll requested his data back in September 2017, before the most recent Facebook controversy, but wasn't happy with what he got back. That's when he contacted the ICO to see if he would have better luck going through UK channels.

The ICO has sided with Carroll and now wants to see everything Cambridge Analytica holds on him. The case may only cover one person – but if Carroll gets his way, that means up to 240 million other US users could demand to see the personal information Cambridge Analytica has been storing through the UK's legal process, The Guardian reports (opens in new tab).

Data debate

Some of the data processing done by Cambridge Analytica was carried out in the UK, which is the technicality that has allowed Carroll and the ICO to demand to see the data. The data mining company now has 30 days to respond to the request, otherwise it could face legal repercussions.

Cambridge Analytica has already entered liquidation and begun the process of winding down in the wake of its troubles, but the ICO says that won't be a valid excuse for avoiding its responsibilities under UK law.

Now all eyes are on Cambridge Analytica and its UK agent SCL Elections Limited to see what happens next. "There's a lot of questions that no one has been able to answer until now so hopefully this will be a major breakthrough in our understanding of what [Cambridge Analytica] did," Carroll told The Guardian (opens in new tab).

Dave is a freelance tech journalist who has been writing about gadgets, apps and the web for more than two decades. Based out of Stockport, England, on TechRadar you'll find him covering news, features and reviews, particularly for phones, tablets and wearables. Working to ensure our breaking news coverage is the best in the business over weekends, David also has bylines at Gizmodo, T3, PopSci and a few other places besides, as well as being many years editing the likes of PC Explorer and The Hardware Handbook.