The American arm of Cambridge Analytica filed for Chapter Seven bankruptcy in the United States, just over two weeks after its British unit and parent company SCL Elections did the same in the United Kingdom. The development marks the end of yet another episode in the Facebook data privacy scandal that emerged in late March, with several sources reporting an academic researcher used an online personality quiz to harvest data of up to 87 million Facebook users without obtaining consent from most of them, then offloaded that information to Cambridge Analytica which allegedly used it for profit but repeatedly denied those accusations.
Earlier this month, the firm highlighted a report authored by Queen’s Counsel Julian Malins who found no evidence of the company breaking any laws, arguing it has been "vilified" due to standard industry practices. The data harvesting practices in question — selling Facebook data to third parties — have formally been banned by Facebook in 2015 but the Menlo Park, California-based social media giant is still struggling to control the data that previously found its way online in such a manner and is generally having difficulties with policing its developers today. An internal investigation into similar privacy violations already saw some 200 apps banned by Facebook in recent weeks. The world's largest social media also threatened to sue The Guardian over publishing the Cambridge Analytica story in March but said it later regretted that move.
Facebook is presently being investigated over its data privacy practices in both the United States and the European Union, with the former already submitting CEO Mark Zuckerberg to some ten hours of congressional grillings earlier this month. Brussels will also question the multi-billionaire over the matter in the coming weeks, European Parliament President Antonio Tajani said Wednesday. Cambridge Analytica's Thursday bankruptcy filing was signed by Jennifer and Rebekah Mercer, daughters of Robert Mercer, an AI pioneer, business magnate, and billionaire who was one of President Trump's largest donors and backed the company with $15 million in 2013. Cambridge Analytica worked for the Trump campaign on the 2016 election but denied using the controversially harvested data in order to benefit the then-candidate.