British court case could shine light on digital profiling during US elections

In what may be a ‘watershed’ case, a U.S. professor is using the British court system to find out how he was digitally profiled and targeted by Cambridge Analytica, the company at the heart of the Trump campaign. Based on their online behavior, the company had created profiles of 240 million Americans, to subsequently target them with tailored content. U.S. citizens are unable to reclaim their personal data in the USA, due to lenient data protection laws. Yet, Cambridge Analytica originated from a ‘British military and elections contractor’, SCL, and it still has staff in SCL’s London office. As a result, data from U.S. citizens was processed in the UK, and the US data protection framework indicates that ‘it doesn’t matter where people are: it matters where the data is processed’. The case could shine light on how the company could buy anonymous data from sources and re-identify their origins, as well as the company’s ties with the military through SCL. Ultimately, it could be ‘a really significant case in terms of the future of algorithmic accountability and data protection’.