Cambridge Analytica Files for Bankruptcy, Overwhelmed by Data Misuse Scandal
by: The Knowledge Group
The New York office of Cambridge Analytica, the data firm embroiled in a Facebook data harvesting scandal, has now filed for Chapter 7 bankruptcy in the U.S.—having already filed for insolvency in Britain in early May 2018. It listed assets valued between $100,001 to $500,000, and liabilities of $1-$10 million. Its U.S. parent company, SCL USA, also filed.
The petition was signed on behalf of board members Rebekah Mercer and Jennifer Mercer (grown children of Robert Mercer, who heavily funded the 2016 Trump presidential election campaign).
CA had tried to recover from the scandal, but to no avail. Public relations damage and an exodus of clientele brought the board to the view that continuing trying to do business was futile.
Investigations Into the Firm’s Practices Not Finished
Meanwhile, the Department of Justice and the FBI continue to investigate Cambridge Analytica’s financial practices. They are also focusing on how Cambridge Analytica siphoned information from Facebook. How did tens of thousands of people have their personal information compromised, bought, and sold?
Most recently, on May 17, Cambridge Analytica whistleblower Christopher Wylie told Congress the firm undertook voter suppression campaigns targeting African-Americans at the behest of Steve Bannon.
If so, this was about more than the Trump campaign. Wylie reported that Cambridge Analytica was testing out “Build the wall!” and “Drain the swamp!” back in 2014, before Trump’s campaign.
Mercer Family Foundation in the Spotlight
In January, Nobel prize winning scientists and others reissued a plea to have Rebekah Mercer ousted from the board of the American Museum of Natural History, on the grounds that Mercer and the Mercer Family Foundation have supported—with gifts adding up to tens of millions in dollars—multiple groups that undermine climate science and policy.
The bankruptcy filing in New York will undoubtedly draw public scrutiny to the Mercers’ foundation. It will, in turn, ignite discussion of the bigger question: How can political funding work its way into social media to influence the conduct of targeted groups?
Wherever one stands politically, it’s a key question for the internet era. Join us for an upcoming webcast discussing the identification and protection of sensitive data on June 5th. It is eligible for Continuing Legal Education (CLE) credits and will be recorded if you cannot make the live event. We look forward to seeing you there.