The UK’s data watchdog, the Information Commission’s Office (ICO), has still not obtained a warrant to enter and search the servers of the London-based political consultancy, Cambridge Analytica — the company at the center of the data misuse scandal engulfing Facebook — three days on from beginning the process. The earliest a warrant could now be obtained by the regulator is Friday. In a statement today the ICO said: “A High Court judge has adjourned the ICO’s application for a warrant relating to Cambridge Analytica until Friday. The ICO will be in court to continue to pursue the warrant to obtain access to data and information to take forward our investigation.” The information commissioner, Elizabeth Denham, made it public on Tuesday that she was seeking a warrant to search CA’s servers after the company missed a Monday deadline to hand over information her office had requested. She also instructed Facebook to withdraw its own investigators from CA’s offices, warning that their presence could compromise her investigation. Unlike competition authorities, the ICO does not have legal powers to raid offices without a warrant. And former UK attorney general, Dominic Grieve, has argued the ICO’s legal powers are inadequate — telling the BBC on Tuesday that the Facebook-CA scandal highlighted a need for “greater powers and greater sanctions”. Greater sanctions are at least incoming — under the EU’s GDPR regime which will apply from May 25, raising the maximum fine for the most serious data protection violations to up to 4% of a company’s global turnover (or €20M, whichever is greater). But the fact that the data watchdog is forced to sit on its hands waiting to gain access to servers that the companies of interest to its investigation are in control of or able to access raises serious questions about the asymmetry between big data and regulation. Earlier this month Denham told MPs on the DCMS committee that’s investigating fake news that her office would be pushing for increased transparency around data flows and disclosure rules for digital political advertising — suggesting a code of conduct is needed to regulate the use of social media in political campaigns, referendums and elections. And while Facebook has claimed it was unaware that ~50M Facebook users’ data was passed to Cambridge Analytica for political targeting purposes, Facebook has itself long been actively encouraging politicians and political campaigns to make use of its tools — at a time…

Source: TechCrunch – Social UK data watchdog still waiting for warrant to raid Cambridge Analytica