The Department of Justice and the Federal Bureau of Investigation have launched an investigation into Cambridge Analytica, the data mining company that announced last month that it would close in the middle of the Facebook privacy scandal that engulfed the social network since March. The investigation, whose existence was reported this afternoon by The New York Times is still in its early stages and we still do not know if it has anything to do with the Cambridge Analytica connections with 2016. president's presidential campaign Donald Trump, according to The Times .
The firm allegedly provided advertising orientation expertise for the Trump campaign based on data it acquired from Cambridge psychology professor Aleksandr Kogan, who compiled data on as many as 87 million Facebook users who use an application test that diverted information from user lists of their users. Then, Kogan packaged and sold that information in violation of Facebook's terms of service. According to reports, the DOJ and the FBI investigate whether Cambridge Analytica violated US electoral laws by acquiring the data and using it to inform its services, based on the idea that such data could help campaigns create profiles of US voters. whose behaviors could be influenced by specific ad targeting.
The investigation also investigates the financial history of the company, in particular its relationship with certain banks, and how it may have used the data collected from Facebook and other online sources, according to The Times . The report says that one of the prosecutors involved is Brian Kidd, the deputy director of the division of securities and financial fraud of the Department of Justice, who last month traveled to the United Kingdom to interview the Cambridge Analytica informant, Christopher Wylie. Wylie was one of the main sources who reported The New York Times and The Guardian initial pair of reports that unearthed the implications of the scandal after Cambridge's ban on Facebook Analytica from its platform in March .
The DOJ and the work of the FBI do not appear to be immediately linked to the investigation led by Special Advisor Robert S. Mueller, who is investigating the links of the Trump campaign with Russia and its interference in the 2016 US elections. The internal investigation is also separate from that conducted by the National Crime Agency of Great Britain, which leads the criminal investigation of the United Kingdom at Cambridge Analytica. In particular, the National Crime Agency is investigating the admission of former Cambridge Analytica CEO, Alexander Nix, of bribes, blackmail and other forms of interference from foreign elections captured by undercover reporters for Channel 4 of the United Kingdom ]
Regarding the role of Facebook in all this, the company has been contacted by the Department of Justice and the FBI, but that is the extent of its known involvement, reports The Times . Yesterday, Facebook published an update on its internal research on other applications and services that may have misused its generous user data collection tools before limiting its API limitations in 2014. It turned out that "about 200" applications were they found in violation of Facebook's terms of service and suspended as a result, the company announced. Facebook is not naming any of the applications at this time, but is carrying out more research on whether any of the application makers misused the data in a similar way to Kogan and Cambridge Analytica. That process will involve extensive interviews with application developers and possibly even on-site audits.