The Information Commission has said no evidence has been found to indicate either SCL Elections Ltd or Cambridge Analytics intervened in the 2016 EU referendum. After a three year investigation it found no suggestion the digital marketing firm misused data in an attempt to influence the EU vote or helped facilitate Russian intervention in the political process.
The SCL group, which was dissolved in 2018, had been accused of using illegally harvested personal data to influence the results of both the EU referendum and the 2016 US Presidential election.
But the three-year probe, which has been described by the authority as the largest ever undertaken by such an organisation, found no evidence this was the case.
Elizabeth Denham, the Information Commissioner, said: “From my review of the materials recovered by the investigation I have found no further evidence to change my earlier view that SCL/CA were not involved in the EU referendum campaign in the UK.”
She made the comments during a parliamentary select committee on Friday and said “on examination, the methods that SCL were using, were in the main, well recognised processes using commonly available technology”.
The findings of the report were published on Tuesday.
The investigation reviewed 42 laptops and computers, 700 TB of data, 31 servers, over 300,000 documents, and a wide range of material in paper form and from cloud storage devices.
Ms Denham said they found no evidence of “significant breaches of privacy” on either side of the referendum campaign.
She said: “I identified no significant breaches of the privacy and electronic marketing regulations and data protection legislation that met the threshold for formal regulatory action.”
The report by the Information Commission did highlight that Cambridge Analytica used “poor data practices”.
Ms Denham said: “I have also confirmed my previous understanding about the poor data practices at the company, which, had they sought to continue trading, would likely have attracted further regulatory action against them by my office.”
The reporter added it had identified “various conduct issues” within SCL Elections and its group of companies that it shared with the UK’s Insolvency Service.
The data revealed the company’s well publicised claim that it had more than “5,000 data points per individual on 230m adult Americans” may have been an exaggeration.
Cambridge Analytica had been accused of influencing the EU vote by improper use of data, later followed by a former employee’s claims that the company did work for pro-Brexit groups such as UKIP and the Leave.EU campaign, headed by Boris Johnson and Michael Gove.
But the ICO report said there was no evidence of interference.