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Data watchdog search of Cambridge Analytica office ‘continues overnight’

The Information Commissioner requested access to records and data in the company’s hands amid claims that Facebook user information may have been illegally acquired.

Cambridge Analytica probe
Cambridge Analytica probe

A search of Cambridge Analytica’s central London offices by Information Commission officers appears to be continuing through the night.

A team entered the premises in New Oxford Street at 8pm on Friday, less than an hour after a High Court judge granted a warrant sought by the Information Commissioner’s Office (ICO).

Elizabeth Denham, the Information Commissioner, requested access to records and data in the company’s hands amid claims that Facebook user information may have been illegally acquired and used for political campaigns.

Both Cambridge Analytica (CA) and Facebook deny any wrongdoing.

After Judge Leonard QC gave the green light for the search, a group of 18 people, some wearing ICO enforcement jackets, were led into the building.

The party was led by a woman holding a piece of paper which appeared to be a warrant.

The group were later seen on the first floor and the second floor – where CA has its offices.

Officials were seen taking photographs of a whiteboard and of computers, while a man took notes on clipboard.

The group were yet to emerge in the early hours of Saturday morning.

Cambridge Analytica probe

Earlier, the ICO tweeted: “ICO granted warrant: 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 data watchdog’s investigation includes the acquisition and use of Facebook data by CA, its parent company SCL and academic Dr Aleksandr Kogan, who developed the app used to gather data.

It stems from claims over the harvesting of personal data – and whether it was used during Donald Trump’s US presidential campaign or the Brexit referendum.

CA’s chief executive Alexander Nix has been suspended, while Facebook founder Mark Zuckerberg has been called on to give evidence to MPs.

Ms Denham had announced her intentions to gain a warrant to enter the offices on Monday, however it was granted just after 7pm on Friday.

Judge Leonard said he would give the reasons for his decision on Tuesday.

Soon after the ruling, the lights on the second floor offices of CA were switched on before the group arrived an hour later.

The ICO is responsible for regulating compliance with the Data Protection Act and Freedom of Information Act.

Ms Denham said she wanted to access the firm’s servers in order to investigate the use of personal data in political campaigns.

Speaking to Channel 4 News, she said: “We need to get in there. We need to take a look at the databases, we need to look at the servers and understand how data was processed or deleted by Cambridge Analytica.”

Behind the frosted glass windows at the central London office block, people could just barely be seen looking at and moving papers around.

At around 9.40pm someone from inside began closing the blinds to the camera flashes of photographers who were outside on the street in the business district.

Curious passers-by asked the waiting press what the fuss was about.

Press Association

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