back to article Zombie Cambridge Analytica told 'death' can't save it from the law

The UK Information Commissioner's Office has told Cambridge Analytica's parent company SCL Elections to comply with an academic's data request, or else. US-based boffin Professor David Carroll, of the Parsons School of Design in New York, had filed a subject access request (SAR) in the UK, because American law didn't give him …

  1. Voland's right hand Silver badge

    Fob off is a very polite way of describing it

    The professor was told (literally) that he has no more right to his data than a tale an in a cave in Afghanistan.

    That's not fob off. That's f*ck off.

    1. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      Re: Fob off is a very polite way of describing it

      "That's not fob off. That's f*ck off."

      That's America.

    2. Destroy All Monsters Silver badge

      Re: Fob off is a very polite way of describing it

      So a MOAF (Mother of All Fob Offs) got dropped on him?

    3. dukwon

      Re: Fob off is a very polite way of describing it

      Isn't that technically true? Doesn't everyone enjoy this kind of protection against UK-based companies under the DPA, regardless of location?

    4. asdf Silver badge

      Re: Fob off is a very polite way of describing it

      >he has no more right to his data than a tale an in a cave in Afghanistan.

      Huh? Get and agree with your general gist and usually not pedantic but that sentence is a WTFer.

      1. Voland's right hand Silver badge

        Re: Fob off is a very polite way of describing it

        Huh? Get and agree with your general gist and usually not pedantic

        The retarded spellchecker on android does not know the word Taleban and ate the b.

        1. Alan Hope

          Re: Fob off is a very polite way of describing it

          "The retarded spellchecker on android does not know the word Taleban and ate the b."

          ... because it's actually spelt Taliban :)

          However, not unreasinable to expect it to properly correct that one.

          1. David Nash Silver badge

            Re: Fob off is a very polite way of describing it

            And it was pretty obvious what the original post meant.

  2. Will Godfrey Silver badge
    Unhappy

    Too Late

    After all this time I doubt there is anything left to shred show.

    1. Mark 85 Silver badge

      Re: Too Late

      Somehow, I just don't believe for a minute that the data has been wiped from them. All they did was fire some workerbees and then rename the company in reality. Same crew up top running the place. They probably haven't even turned off the servers.

      Data=money. Since most don't know what or how much data they have, there's little incentive for them to destroy it.

      1. Dodgy Geezer Silver badge

        Re: Too Late

        Interesting question. What can you say to the ICO if you really don't know what data you have collected?

        I'm guessing that the ICO would respond that you MUST know about all the personal data that you collect - when you ask for it you should document the fact.

        In which case, has it become illegal to ask open-ended questions which may result in someone giving you some personal data that you didn't anticipate?

        1. chr0m4t1c

          Re: Too Late

          >Interesting question. What can you say to the ICO if you really don't know what data you have collected?

          You must know your data sources so you have to make searches of any that could hold data on the subject even if you do not know whether there was any data collected through that source.

          It's quite legitimate to say that you didn't search you HR systems for example because if the subject is not an employee then they won't be in there.

          It's not legitimate to say that you didn't search the data you got from Facebook because you didn't know if they were in there or not,

  3. JohnMurray

    And the ICO would also like the CA servers passwords...which they have been refused...

    1. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      No passwords

      Hmm.. Not handing over passwords? I seem to remember a law that can get them sent straight to jail without their $200 if they don't hand over their passwords.

      1. Dodgy Geezer Silver badge

        Re: No passwords

        Isn't there also a law that says you must protect personal data and only release it to state officials if they have a proper court warrant?

        And another law that says it's illegal to break encryotion on Intellectual Property?

        Lawyer's field day...

  4. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    Death's too good for them.

    That is all.

  5. Chris G Silver badge

    I hope

    The press, including El Reg keep track of what SCL and CA's successors are up to and inform the public accordingly.

    When thinking about them and any others who have such disregard for people, morals and ethics, the only word that comes to mind is vermin.

    It looks as though Elizabeth Denham is worthy of her post and willing to use her powers against this parasitic vermin.

    1. Anonymous Coward
      Holmes

      Re: I hope

      We need to keep track of the individuals involved, too. Consider them as plague carriers that need to be tracked to see where the contagion has spread. Yes, I am serious. You can learn a lot about the various networks out there, not only this one.

      1. DJV Silver badge

        @Jack of Shadows

        Fully agree with you. The CA "individuals" are probably hanging out with the likes of Kent Ertugrul (Phorm), Darl McBride (SCO) and Andrew Crossley (ACS:Law) - look them up if the names don't mean anything to you. All total scumbags.

    2. anonymous boring coward Silver badge

      Re: I hope

      Don't forget that FB is the biggest villain in this, with their non-existent protection of personal data.

  6. Crisp Silver badge

    Innocent men don't run from the police

    And it looks very suspicious to a jury.

    1. eldakka Silver badge
      Black Helicopters

      Re: Innocent men don't run from the police

      I downvoted because that heading is a myth told by the police and prosecution to make innocent people look guilty.

      innocent men do run from the police because the police are just as likely to shoot and kill an innocent as a guilty man. And the DPP is keen to put anyone in prison for a crime, guilt or innocence be damned.

      1. Dodgy Geezer Silver badge

        Re: Innocent men don't run from the police

        Actually, they are very unlikely to kill an innocent man. If they shoot you, you must be guilty of SOMETHING.

        For example, Harry Stanley was guilty of turning around when someone shouted from behind him...https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Death_of_Harry_Stanley

        Charles de Menezes was guilty of coming out of his home at the wrong time...https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Death_of_Jean_Charles_de_Menezes

        Ian Tomlinson was guilty of walking down the street...https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Death_of_Ian_Tomlinson#Earlier_encounter_with_police

        and so on.....

    2. Dodgy Geezer Silver badge

      Re: Innocent men don't run from the police

      ...Innocent men don't run from the police...

      SENSIBLE men run from the police. Women, now.....

    3. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      Re: Innocent men don't run from the police

      What if the "innocent man" is surprised by someone with a gun, takes fright, and runs off ... without even thinking the gun wielder might be from the police?

      After all - "Why would it be the police? I'm innocent!"

  7. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    This all feels a little too much like theatre, it makes me wonder how this will all play out. Who would you hold criminally responsible as there is more than one director? Will SCL now close? If it does what legal rights do the ICO have? Would a judge side with the ICO? What if they claim they don't have the data to give?

    I don't think they'll get anything.

    1. BebopWeBop Silver badge

      I suspect they may well wriggle, but there does appear to be both a political and judicial will to dig out some approximation to the truth. I would expect that directors can be held liable (as well as ex directors) and I would hope pursued to the full extent of the law. The excuse that the dog ate the homework after the ICO asked for it should incur criminal proceedings.

    2. Doctor Syntax Silver badge

      "Who would you hold criminally responsible as there is more than one director?"

      All of them.

      "Will SCL now close?"

      ICO has already said it won't make any difference. That was plainly stated in the headline.

      "If it does what legal rights do the ICO have?"

      It's not so much rights as authority. It has the authority to go after those who were officers of the company when the offence occurred.

      "Would a judge side with the ICO?"

      Side isn't the right word. Judges are impartial and will impartially conduct the relevant tribunal. If the defence haven't a leg to stand on (or, indeed, f they have) they'll proceed according to the law.

      "What if they claim they don't have the data to give?"

      They'll need to prove that they never had it, difficult given what they already supplied, so either they give it or they admit to having destroyed evidence which would be an offence in itself.

      "I don't think they'll get anything."

      Who's they? I think SCL or its directors are going to get what's coming to them.

      1. Anonymous Coward
        Anonymous Coward

        Good points though I see it playing out like this.

        ICO takes directors to court. Directors claim data has been destroyed as per the request of Facebook before ICO were involved (nice delay the ICO provided btw, nothing suspicious in that at all). Judge dismisses case as at the time they weren't aware they were doing anything wrong and were actually respecting people privacy by deleting the data (we all know this is bollocks but how do you prove otherwise?)

        It's not how I would like to see it happen but this to me is the most probable route.

        1. Doctor Syntax Silver badge

          "Directors claim data has been destroyed as per the request of Facebook before ICO were involved"

          Contract - even if this was involved - does not override law. If they were destroying evidence having been told to do so by Facebook doesn't excuse them.

          "nice delay the ICO provided btw, nothing suspicious in that at all"

          I'm not sure of the law here off the top of ny head and CBA to go & read it but commentary on subsequent changes to the new DP Bill passing through Parliament suggests that their hand were tied by the current DPA. So no, nothing suspicious, but a need to get the forthcoming DPA right. Entitlement to turn up at 5am with a sledgehammer and preferably a few uniformed bobbies would be ideal.

          1. Anonymous Coward
            Anonymous Coward

            The suspicious bit was announcing it on TV before going to court. I'm also unsure when they went to court as well because the announcement was Monday night but it wasn't reported in court till Thursday and judgement passed on the Friday. Does that mean they are not liable for anything they did before the Thursday?

            1. eldakka Silver badge

              > The suspicious bit was announcing it on TV before going to court. I'm also unsure when they went to court as well because the announcement was Monday night but it wasn't reported in court till Thursday and judgement passed on the Friday. Does that mean they are not liable for anything they did before the Thursday?

              Unlike pretty much any other type of warrant, the ICO must give 5 business days notice to the subject of a data warrant as the subject has a right to appear in court when the ICO makes an application to a judge to oppose the warrant. Therefore once the ICO notifies the subject of the warrant, it has to wait 5 days before it can apply to the court for the warrant (or something like that).

              1. Doctor Syntax Silver badge

                "the ICO must give 5 business days notice to the subject of a data warrant as the subject has a right to appear in court when the ICO makes an application to a judge to oppose the warrant."

                Thanks for the detail.

      2. Dodgy Geezer Silver badge

        ..."Would a judge side with the ICO?"

        Side isn't the right word. Judges are impartial and will impartially conduct the relevant tribunal....

        Are you living in the 1950s? That hasn't been true for a long time. The courts are now REQUIRED by law to discriminate in favour of various groups of people in a number of ways....

    3. Antron Argaiv Silver badge
      Thumb Up

      I don't think they'll get anything.

      They will if they manage to ID and then sweat the BOFH.

      He'll soon realise on which side his bread is buttered and give up those server passwords right quickly.

      1. CrazyOldCatMan Silver badge

        give up those server passwords right quickly

        Or quietly mumble the word "l0ftcrack"[1] when the Police ask..

        (If the Police and Courts have physical access to the servers then getting the local admin passwords isn't that hard - non-trivial, but not hard).

        [1] Or whatever its called nowadays. May days of using such tools are (sadly) past.

    4. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      "Who would you hold criminally responsible as there is more than one director?"

      All of them, except one. That one being whoever is most co-operative.

      That's to stop them closing ranks, instead making them distrust each other and encouraging back stabbing.

      1. Anonymous Coward
        Anonymous Coward

        Re: "Who would you hold criminally responsible as there is more than one director?"

        Well, I think it's fair to say it isn't going to be the one related to the Queen.

  8. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    Just build some stocks

    on College Green (opposite Parliament) and put the bosses of CA (and Zuck) in them for a week. Perhaps then they might start to realise what they have done is wrong. I'm sure that the good traders from Covent Garden will happily supply rotten tomatoes to one and all.

    Or you could put them in the Tower and throw away the keys.

  9. Anonymous South African Coward Silver badge

    hole.dig(deeper)

    1. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      hole.dig(deeper)

      (dig (deeper hole))

      1. CrazyOldCatMan Silver badge

        Re: hole.dig(deeper)

        (dig (deeper hole.round_not_square.somewhere_else_not_here))

  10. diver_dave

    Here we go again!

    Regarding El Reg keeping watch.

    I am hoping they dedicate the same level of dedication nay passion they

    showed with the scumbags at Phorm [1]

    First against the wall when the revolution comes!

    He he he...

    DaveA

    [1] Now appears to be either an artists collective or a muscle supplement :-)

    1. Terje

      Re: Here we go again!

      I didn't know they were a part of the Marketing division of Sirius Cybernetics!

  11. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    Pass out the torches and pitchforks!

    I get it, CA are terrible people. But I'm seeing a uniformity of posts here so far that seem kinda vicious, as if CA was staffed by actual demons in human form rather than living, breathing fellow humans. Is this the tone?

    Must all political villains be two-minuted hated like this on El Reg now? Is there a rule I'm missing? Do these people really deserve only death, disfigurement or durance vile? For a mere FB information mining operation that Facebook apparently felt was okay?

    Seems to me there'd be fewer extreme remedies suggested here were I to mention that Barrack Obama himself benefited from a similar Facebook privacy invasion back in 2012, which helped him get elected.

    Or is that just "Whataboutism" and thus safely ignorable nonsense?

    1. diver_dave

      Re: Pass out the torches and pitchforks!

      Seems to me there'd be fewer extreme remedies suggested here were I to mention that Barrack Obama himself benefited from a similar Facebook privacy invasion back in 2012, which helped him get elected.

      Big John, two points....

      1) This is the Reg, vitriol and pitchforks are expected. Flaming torches depends on the current OPEC price on Brent Crude.

      2) Unfortunately there wasn't a bandwagon to jump on in 2012.

      Jokes aside, the public perceptions of security across Europe (I can't speak to for the US situation) have actually become more important to individuals over the last four - five years [1]. This means people are far more aware of their risk, and, also their responsibilities in managing their online presence. Oddly enough, Romania had most trust that the data collector would manage their personal information safely, Malta the least trust.

      Given this increased awareness it is not surprising that people make more waves about data slurps.[2]

      [1]Source: CORDIS EU Horizon 20:20 project framework. Secure Societies, Protecting the freedom and security of Europe and it's citizens. (Various Projects)

      [2] That said another 20:20 project researches the involvement in privacy and reading of EULA's. So the propensity to complain after the fact, and with increased indignation, appears to be the norm.

    2. Dr_N Silver badge
      Facepalm

      Re: Pass out the torches and pitchforks!

      >Or is that just "Whataboutism" and thus safely ignorable nonsense?

      You still don't understand what whataboutery is, but still keep using it?

      Go after the other story, if you like, by all means. Just don't use it as a defense for others' dodgy practices and crimes.

    3. Doctor Syntax Silver badge

      Re: Pass out the torches and pitchforks!

      "But I'm seeing a uniformity of posts here so far that seem kinda vicious, as if CA was staffed by actual demons in human form rather than living, breathing fellow humans."

      I think there's more variance than that. Some of us are more interested in the enforcement of the actual C21st law rather than reversion to medieval practices.

      1. Jamie Jones Silver badge

        Re: Pass out the torches and pitchforks!

        Geeze John, it seems your default reaction to something you disagree with is to come out with some criticism of Obama.

        When will you realise that:

        1) Attempting to defend one side by critisicing the other doesn't work. It's not logical. Kids tend to do it, ("yeah??? well your mum smells of farts") but most realise it's stupid when they reach the age of 5.

        2) This wasn't even a partisan issue. You are so entrenched in your dogma, that whenever someone says something you don't agree with, they must be "leftie liberals".

        3) Finally, even "leftie liberals" generally are free thinkers. They don't idolize their "team" as a god. If you come up with an honest criticism of Obama etc. they'll probably agree, or maybe even disagree, but to get annoyed and all butt-hurt for daring to criticise "one of them" is a right wing tendancy - you'd do well to not try the same tactics on 'lefties' as you would on your own flock.

        So, that's 3 strikes.

        (I still can't imagine how you thought mentioning Obama in this case was somehow a good point to be made)

        As Dr_N said, you keep talking whataboutism without actually understanding what it means.

        HAND.

        1. paulll Bronze badge

          Re: Pass out the torches and pitchforks!

          "to get annoyed and all butt-hurt for daring to criticise "one of them" is a right wing tendancy..."

          Oooooh...would we say that?

          1. Jamie Jones Silver badge
            Happy

            Re: Pass out the torches and pitchforks!

            Sorry, I read your post *after* writing my response... Honest!

    4. Stoneshop Silver badge

      Re: Pass out the torches and pitchforks!

      as if CA was staffed by actual demons in human form rather than living,

      The Channel 4 report does give quite a lot of weight to them being, indeed, actual demons.

      were I to mention that Barrack Obama himself benefited from a similar Facebook privacy invasion back in 2012

      Once again, that was an OPEN REQUEST to invite FB friends into activities. Which has been pointed out to you every time you bring that one up. CA has been found to have been quite a bit less open about its doings.

      1. Adrian 4 Silver badge

        Re: Pass out the torches and pitchforks!

        "Once again, that was an OPEN REQUEST to invite FB friends into activities. Which has been pointed out to you every time you bring that one up. CA has been found to have been quite a bit less open about its doings."

        Yes, but Mr. BJ is an american rightwinger. (yes, the extreme leftwingers are pretty much as bad).

        He's not interested in the truth. He's only interested in being right (in both senses).

        He assumes that if he keeps repeating something it becomes true.

        In a more reasonable culture where people don't get excited about mere politics, he just marks himself out as a loonie and is ignored.

    5. paulll Bronze badge

      Re: Pass out the torches and pitchforks!

      Flicking through this, Obama (or Trump) didn't even occur to me until you brought it up.

      People here are angry because of CA's arrogance, and because they understand the insidious nature of what was done, where the majority of the proles do not.

      They gave zero shits which tribe was bankrolling them, same as the overwhelming majority of the people here.

    6. JohnFen Silver badge

      Re: Pass out the torches and pitchforks!

      I disagree with those who are advocating things like death. That said...

      "as if CA was staffed by actual demons in human form rather than living, breathing fellow humans."

      More like as if actual humans were assisting an organization that engages in clearly immoral and illegal conduct.

      "For a mere FB information mining operation that Facebook apparently felt was okay?"

      No, for a whole lot more than that.

      "Seems to me there'd be fewer extreme remedies suggested here were I to mention that Barrack Obama himself benefited from a similar Facebook privacy invasion back in 2012"

      Probably not, but that's pure speculation, since the Obama campaign did not engage in behavior similar to CA's.

    7. Agamemnon

      Re: Pass out the torches and pitchforks!

      The problem is: These aren't People, and they're about as close to "Demon" as you can get.

      * They "stole data". Yeah, whatever. Who here hasn't? (ahem).

      * They used it to manipulate the weaker minds in my country here (not difficult, I get that) and royally fucked things up (this is not to say that last election cycle in the US proved systemic brokenness from Everyone Everywhere) very much in this country, and by extension, lots of other things. And I Have No Problem With That either.

      What I have a problem with is: A bunch of Pompus Fucking Sociopathic Pricks in a private company explaining frankly how they're going to screw These People, and they screwed Those People, for money. Because they could. Last I checked, this was CIA territory (and other state actors but come-on, if they took out Cambridge Analytica your mind would just sort of slip "The CIA" all over these articles).

      Fellow Commentards are pissy and calling for blood because:

      * They're clearly unrepentant, and planning to Scale? That should give one pause.

      * They're sociopaths. Sorry mate, but they've got no value to the Human Race. They're parasites Seeding Chaos. That's pretty demon like.

      ... And changing the name on the sign in the window, so they can Keep being Sociopaths?

      Yeah, on the wall.

    8. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      Re: Pass out the torches and pitchforks!

      That myth about Obama has been comprehensively debunked on the comments section of this web site within the last week or two. Do keep up.

      1. Jamie Jones Silver badge

        Re: Pass out the torches and pitchforks!

        Oh, and don't forget their arrogance. Actually thinking they could say this and not face the full wratch of the ICO.. The mind boggles.

        From the pdf:

        The data controller replied to the Commissioner on 2 November 2017.

        It again refused to accept that the complainant was entitled to make a subject access request or a request for assessment under the DPA, asserting that the Commissioner had no vires to consider the complaint. The data controller informed the Commissioner that it did “.. not expect to be further harassed with this sort of correspondence”.

    9. Terje
      Coat

      Re: Pass out the torches and pitchforks!

      Do we have any actual evidence to the fact that they are NOT directly employed by the fellow downstairs?

      Mines the red formfitting asbestos and lycra one

      1. CrazyOldCatMan Silver badge

        Re: Pass out the torches and pitchforks!

        Do we have any actual evidence to the fact that they are NOT directly employed by the fellow downstairs?

        Yeah - he/she/it doesn't actually exist.

        Other than that - no.

    10. anonymous boring coward Silver badge

      Re: Pass out the torches and pitchforks!

      "as if CA was staffed by actual demons in human form rather than living, breathing fellow humans."

      They sure as hell aren't "fellow humans".

    11. GIRZiM Bronze badge

      Re: Pass out the torches and pitchforks!

      Seems to me there'd be fewer extreme remedies suggested here were I to mention that Barrack Obama himself benefited from a similar Facebook privacy invasion back in 2012

      No, there wouldn't.

      1) Two wrongs don't make a right.

      2) This is a U.K. tech site and nobody here gives a crap about Obama, Clinton, Trump, Nixon, Gee Dubyah, JFK, FDR or any other personal bogeyman that you care to mention - your personal politics are not relevant here.

  12. Korev Silver badge
    Childcatcher

    >the company's decision to close down and re-emerge under another name won't give it an out

    Ouch! That's terrible English...

  13. revenant Bronze badge

    Wow!

    A couple of "Wow!"s there:

    - From the enforcement notice, the extent of the behavioural and political profiling that they'd done on the bloke is pretty shocking.

    - The breath-taking arrogance in their first response to the ICO:

    The data controller stated that the complainant was no more entitled to make a subject access request under the DPA “.. than a member of the Taliban sitting in a cave in the remotest corner of Afghanistan”.

    What would be nice would be for them to be hauled in front of the courts and then obliged to feed complete data to every single person on their list, free of charge.

    1. AndyFl

      Re: Wow!

      "What would be nice would be for them to be hauled in front of the courts and then obliged to feed complete data to every single person on their list, free of charge."

      The directors should personally deliver copies of the data to the registered home of each person on their list.

      That should keep them from causing any more trouble for a long time :)

      Andy

      1. Korev Silver badge
        Joke

        Re: Wow!

        Having experienced the traffic in Cambridge, I imagine the first month would be spent getting as far as the A14...

      2. Tom 7 Silver badge

        Re: Wow! you mean Wowbagger.

        text hear.

        1. diver_dave

          Wowbagger.

          "You're a jerk Dent, a complete A**hole"...

      3. Stoneshop Silver badge
        Devil

        Re: Wow!

        The directors should personally deliver copies of the data to the registered home of each person on their list.

        By bike. No posh chauffeur-driven air-conditioned leather-upholstered Jaguar, and cattle-class Ryanair to get them over the pond.

        1. Casca

          Re: Wow!

          And no saddle...

          1. acid andy
            Devil

            Re: Wow!

            No saddle, no tyres and the presence of pedals depends on conduct in the mean time.

        2. BebopWeBop Silver badge
          Trollface

          Re: Wow!

          Well the bike might be fun - but if you insist then I would also spec a bike (without the saddle) to get over the pond.

      4. CrazyOldCatMan Silver badge

        Re: Wow!

        The directors should personally deliver copies of the data to the registered home of each person on their list

        Hell no! If I was on the list I wouldn't want any of them coming anywhere near my house - I value my stuff being where it is, not being nicked by a sociopathic ex-director with minimal connections to ethics or morality.

        Besides that, my dog is too elderly to chase them.

        1. ArrZarr Silver badge

          Re: Wow!

          "my dog is too elderly to chase them." - CrazyOldCatMan, 2018

          If you like dogs, then my esteem for you based upon your name has dropped dramatically.

  14. Torchy

    Lets play find the servers.

    What servers?

    Where?

    Not ours mate !

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