The notoriety of Cambridge Analytica has risen over the past 2 weeks for the role they played in persuading the US public in regards to the presidential election. It is speculated that they used over 50 million Facebook user profiles to advertise pro-Trump propaganda to persuade the US public to vote for the current president.
While Cambridge Analytica have been accused of misusing this data, the UK firm and executives are also being accused of violating the US election laws. Common Cause, which is a government group created to upkeep election integrity, filed legal complaints to the Department of Justice and the Federal Election Commission (FEC) accusing several executives of breaking US election laws. The employees are from both Cambridge Analytica and SCL Group Limited, the parent company.
Alexander Nix (CEO of Cambridge Analytica), Nigel Oakes (Co-Founder of SCL), Alexander Tayler (Data scientist) and Christopher Wylie (former employee, now whistle-blower) have all been accused of the violation of federal election laws that prohibit United States foreigners from altering the process that voters make their decisions of US politically related campaigns.
According to the FEC, the campaign that Trump led paid Cambridge Analytica close to $6 million for their services during the election cycle of 2016. According to government records, Trump wasn’t the only candidate in the presidential race to use individual research and the micro-targeting of voters. Ted Cruz’s presidential campaign also used these types of services to aid him in his efforts.
The Common Cause group is requesting that the Justice Department and the FEC investigate any election laws that could have been potentially violated and impose the appropriate restraints and sanctions on those involved.
The complaints that they filed allege the Cambridge Analytica and their executives ignored advice from lawyer Laurence Levy that said foreign firms can still collect and process data but the final analysis must be done by US citizens. The disregard for the advice led management decisions of the US political committee to be conducted by foreigners in the 2014 and 2016 elections which are in violation of the US election laws.
Cambridge Analytica has denied on many occasions that they had any wrongdoing in relation to the Facebook profile data mining scandal. Currently Alexander Nix is in hot water himself from the leaked data that suggested he bribed and entrapped officials to influence election campaigns.
Since then Nix has stepped down and the acting CEO, Alexander Taylor, stated that the firm takes the allegations of the unethical practices very seriously. He also mentions that anyone who is familiar with the staff and procedures of Cambridge Analytica would know that they would not act in act in an unethical way to persuade the political agenda of foreign countries.