Data watchdogs demand Cambridge Analytica warrant amid 'honeytrap' claims

Posted On: 
20th March 2018

Official information watchdogs have demanded a warrant to search the records of political campaigns firm Cambridge Analytica amid fresh allegations against the company.

Cambridge Analytica CEO Alexander Nix
Credit: 
PA Images

Executives were filmed by Channel 4 News suggesting they could use honey traps and possibly bribery to discredit politicians across the globe and help them win elections.

Cambridge Analytica is credited with helping Donald Trump secure his US presidential election win by profiling voters to help better target online advertising campaigns.

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It has been accused of illegitimately obtaining some of the data of 50 million Facebook users ahead of the 2016 contest for the White House.

Information Commissioner Elizabeth Denham told Channel 4 Cambridge Analytica had failed to meet a deadline to grant access to its databases and servers.

"I'm not accepting their response so therefore I'll be applying to the court for a warrant," she said.

"We need to get in there, we need to look at the databases, we need to look at the servers and understand how data was processed or deleted by Cambridge Analytica."

Channel 4 also obtained footage of the firm’s boss Alexander Nix saying one way to target political opponents was to "offer them a deal that's too good to be true and make sure that video's recorded".

He said he could "send some girls around to the candidate's house..." and added that  Ukrainian women "are very beautiful, I find that works very well".

Thinking he was speaking to potential clients, he said: "I'm just giving you examples of what can be done and what has been done."

But the firm has denied any wrongdoing and insisted Channel 4 “grossly misrepresented” the comments.

"In playing along with this line of conversation, and partly to spare our 'client' from embarrassment, we entertained a series of ludicrous hypothetical scenarios," the company said in a statement.

"Cambridge Analytica does not condone or engage in entrapment, bribes or so-called 'honeytraps'.”

Chair of the Culture, Media and Sport Committee Damian Collins has accused Mr Nix of having “deliberately misled” MPs when questioned about the firm’s work.