The company’s executives have formed a web of linked companies, suggesting its work will continue

The announcement that Cambridge Analytica is shutting has a certain inevitability to it. Ever since 17 March 2018, when Carole Cadwalladr broke Christopher Wylie’s whistleblower story at the Observer and in the New York Times, there have been continuous revelations about Cambridge Analytica and its parent company, SCL Group, and their brazen use – or misuse – of Facebook data and dirty tricks.
But given the complex business structure of SCL and Cambridge Analytica’s UK and US affiliates, there are reasons to question precisely what Wednesday’s announcement means. Already there are some suggestions that those associated with Cambridge Analytica may re-emerge in another form.
Are Cambridge Analytica and SCL Group attempting to evade recent negative coverage, only to re-form and continue their work as part of a new entity?
Damian Collins, the British MP who chairs the digital, culture, media and sport Committee that is investigating SCL and Cambridge Analytica, tweeted some words of caution on Wednesday after the news broke, noting that CA and SCL “cannot be allowed to delete their data history by closing”.
Certainly the news presents as many questions as answers.
Cambridge Analytica and SCL have at least 18 active companies, branches, and affiliates with similar names, based in the UK and the US. The complex relationship among these companies makes it very difficult to understand how revenues, employment, and data are shared. It almost seems as though the business structure was created to make it impossible to track decision-making and funding.
On Wednesday afternoon Cambridge Analytica issued a press release stating: “SCL Elections Ltd., as well as certain of its and Cambridge Analytica LLC’s U.K. affiliates (collectively, the ‘Company’ or ‘Cambridge Analytica’) filed applications to commence insolvency proceedings in the U.K.” It also stated that “parallel bankruptcy proceedings will soon be commenced on behalf of Cambridge Analytica LLC and certain of the Company’s U.S. affiliates in the United States Bankruptcy Court for the Southern District of New York.”
It is notable that Cambridge Analytica’s press release does not mention SCL Group Limited, SCL Social Ltd, or SCL Insight Ltd. Is it closing only some affiliates and leaving others open?
Shortly after the whistleblower story on Cambridge Analytica’s use of Facebook data broke in March, the Cambridge Analytica CEO, Alexander Nix, was suspended and three US states opened investigations into Cambridge Analytica and Facebook. In the following weeks, current and past employees of Cambridge Analytica and Facebook have testified in the UK, the US, Canada and other countries, and a US and UK class action lawsuit was filed against both companies in early April.
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