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Cambridge Analytica data on Colorado voters is still circulating, report finds
Photo via Shop Catalog/Flickr (CC-BY)
The firm claims it deleted all the data.
Not all of Cambridge Analytica’s harvested Facebook data was deleted, like the company claimed, according to a new report by British news outlet Channel 4. In fact, it’s still in circulation.
The political data analytics firm, which served President Donald Trump’s presidential campaign, came under fire last week after it was reported that it had accessed the personal data of more than 50 million Facebook users without permission. The company, which now faces an investigation, claimed that it deleted the data in question upon Facebook’s request.
However, reporters for Channel 4 News said on Wednesday that they were shown campaign data from the Cambridge Analytica that details of 136,000 individuals from the swing state of Colorado. The dataset includes psychological and personality profiles for each person, dating from 2014.
Channel 4 News did not disclose who was holding the data, but the outlet said it was given access by a “Cambridge Analytica source.”
Sources told Channel 4 News that the dataset was used by the Republican Party and Trump’s incoming national security adviser John Bolton, whose political action committee hired Cambridge Analytica in 2014. Since the new revelations were published Wednesday, the state’s Democratic Party representatives have called on Attorney General Cynthia Coffman to investigate.
A spokesperson for Cambridge Analytica maintained that it had deleted the data entirely. The firm previously promised to undergo a third-party audit as proof.
“We have never passed any data from GSR to an external party. After Facebook contacted us in December 2015 we deleted all GSR data and took appropriate steps to ensure that any copies of the data were deleted,” the company told Channel 4 News.
“This includes our lawyers taking action in late 2014 against a number of former staff members who had stolen data and intellectual property from the company. These former staff members each signed an undertaking promising that they had deleted all such material. It is untrue that we failed to take appropriate measures to ensure that GSR data were deleted.”
David Gilmour is a reporter who specializes in national politics, internet culture, and technology. He previously covered civil liberties, crime, and politics for Vice.