United Kingdom data privacy panel makes test-case order

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A United Kingdom regulator has ordered Cambridge Analytica's affiliate, SCL Elections, to turn over USA voters personal information its collected within 30 days or face prosecution.

The controversy dates to 2015, when Cambridge University academic Aleksandr Kogan and his company Global Science Research posted a quiz app on Facebook, called "This Is Your Digital Life", to gather data on 270,000 users and the users' friends, then shared it with Cambridge Analytica.

The Information Commissioner's Office served notice to SCL Elections, Cambridge Analytica's parent, to provide the information it holds on David Carroll, saying failure to do so would be a criminal offence punishable by an unlimited fine.

The development could clear the way for millions of other Americans to demand info on their data too.

UK Information Commissioner Elizabeth Denham said: "The company has consistently refused to co-operate with our investigation into this case and has refused to answer our specific enquiries in relation to the complainant's personal data - what they had, where they got it from and on what legal basis they held it". America's data-protection laws are less stringent than Britain's too, the representative added.

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'Prof Carroll was not satisfied that he had been given all of the personal data held about him, nor an adequate explanation of where it had been obtained from or how it would be used, and complained to the ICO, which subsequently wrote to the data controller in September 2017, sharing his concerns'. 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. "We were always confident that he was in the right to request his data, and are very pleased that the ICO has confirmed his position".

Former Cambridge Analytica CEO Alexander Nix was for a time listed as a director of both companies, but has been removed.

"We are aware of recent media reports concerning Cambridge Analytica's future", Denham said in a statement, "but whether or not the people behind the company decide to fold their operation, a continued refusal to engage with the ICO will potentially breach an Enforcement Notice and that then becomes a criminal matter".

The firm, which announced it was shutting down last week, has 30 weeks to comply with or appeal the order.

The company didn't respond to a request for comment Saturday, nor did Cambridge Analytica.