United Kingdom-based data firm Cambridge Analytica is shutting down operations following the ongoing Facebook data scandal, in which the firm improperly amassed sensitive Facebook user data to target messages to voters during the previous U.S. presidential election. Cambridge Analytica affiliates SCL Group and SCL Elections will also shut down in the U.S. and U.K.
In a statement on the closure, the company said that "parallel bankruptcy proceedings" will begin for Cambridge Analytica and "certain of the company's U.S. affiliates." The decision to end its business came after it began losing clients and facing "mounting legal fees" from the Facebook investigation, people familiar with the matter told The Wall Street Journal.
In its statement, Cambridge Analytica remained adamant that many of the accusations against the data firm have been "unfounded."
“Over the past several months, Cambridge Analytica has been the subject of numerous unfounded accusations,” the statement said. “The siege of media coverage has driven away virtually all of the company’s customers and suppliers. As a result, it has been determined that it is no longer viable to continue operating the business.”
Cambridge Analytica has denied wrongdoing in the Facebook incident. The company said in the Wednesday statement that despite the efforts to correct the record, it “has been vilified for activities that are not only legal, but also widely accepted as a standard component of online advertising in both the political and commercial arenas.”
Despite the closures, leaders at Cambridge Analytica and SCL Group are said to be "involved in a variety of other entities," which could lead to the companies rebranding their data firm operations under a different name. The New York Times suggests this could be a new Britain-based firm called Emerdata, with one SCL Group executive, Nigel Oakes, publicly describing Emerdata as a way of rolling up the two companies under one new banner.
In the weeks following the news of the data controversy, Facebook shared numerous blog posts about policy changes and updates that launched on the social network to enhance its users' privacy. When asked what he would do if he was Mark Zuckerberg, Apple CEO Tim Cook in March said: "I wouldn't be in this situation" and called for stronger data privacy regulations.
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