Cambridge Analytica, data firm at center of Facebook privacy scandal, shutting down

LONDON, UNITED KINGDOM - MAY 02: A general view of the office building that used to be occupied by the now defunct Cambridge Analytica on May 2, 2018 in London, England. (Photo by Chris J Ratcliffe/Getty Images)

NEW YORK — Cambridge Analytica, the Trump-affiliated data firm at the center of Facebook’s worst privacy scandal in history, is declaring bankruptcy and shutting down.

The London firm blamed “unfairly negative media coverage” and said it has been “vilified” for actions it says are both legal and widely accepted as part of online advertising.

Cambridge Analytica said it has filed papers to begin insolvency proceedings in the U.K. and will seek bankruptcy protection in a federal court in New York.

“The siege of media coverage has driven away virtually all of the company’s customers and suppliers,” Cambridge Analytica said in a statement. “As a result, it has been determined that it is no longer viable to continue operating the business.”

Cambridge Analytica has been linked to Donald Trump’s 2016 presidential campaign. The British firm suspended CEO Alexander Tayler in April amid investigations.

Cambridge Analytica sought information on Facebook to build psychological profiles on a large portion of the U.S. electorate. The company was able to amass the database quickly with the help of an app that appeared to be a personality test. The app collected data on tens of millions of people and their Facebook friends, even those who did not download the app themselves.

Facebook has since tightened its privacy restrictions. Cambridge has denied wrongdoing, and Trump’s campaign has said it didn’t use Cambridge’s data.

The firm has said it is committed to helping the U.K. investigation into Facebook and how it uses data. But U.K. Information Commissioner Elizabeth Denham said in March the firm failed to meet a deadline to produce the information requested.

Denham said the prime allegation against Cambridge Analytica is that it acquired personal data in an unauthorized way, adding that the data provisions act requires services like Facebook to have strong safeguards against misuse of data.

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