Facebook users demand their Cambridge Analytica data, as 'dirty data' firm dies in bankruptcy

A group of Facebook users who claim their personal data was misused, possibly to throw the 2016 U.S. Presidential election to Donald Trump, must wait until September to try and get more information from 'dark data' firm Cambridge Analytica.

It's not clear how Cambridge Analytica assets are being distributed as the company shuts down — partly because Cambridge Analytica isn't entirely going away, in a sense. Various dirty data firms have sprung from its legal ashes already, and one of them is Emerdata.

The group of American Facebook users suing Cambridge Analytica have questions about that.

"One topic of interest, the data breach group says, is Emerdata Ltd., a company that bought 89.5 percent in Cambridge Analytica from Chief Executive Officer Alexander Nix and Cambridge Analytica affiliates just before the bankruptcy."

Former Cambridge Analytica CEO Alexander Nix. Pedro Nunes/Reuters

From the Bloomberg story

The political consulting firm is winding down both in the U.K., its home country, and in a New York Chapter 7 bankruptcy case. Some of the dozens of Facebook users who sued both Facebook and Cambridge Analytica in U.S. district court appeared in the bankruptcy as "data breach plaintiffs" to ask if they can gather more information about the defunct company's finances.

U.S. Bankruptcy Judge Sean Lane said in Manhattan court Tuesday that they'll have to wait until September to hear his answer, when more information will hopefully become clear. Meanwhile, he entered an order in their favor to preserve any records.

His back and forth with lawyers revealed how difficult it will be to get any financial compensation — or even information — from the firm.

"I don't know some of the basic facts, which is a bit daunting," Lane said, in a hearing that ran through a laundry list of unknowns: whether Cambridge Analytica has indeed handed over all the information it collected; whether it has, or ever did have Facebook user data in its possession; what the role of board member Rebekah Mercer was in pre-bankruptcy transactions; and how Cambridge Analytica's lawyers can insist there is no one at the company to subpoena or answer such questions under oath, since someone must have hired them.

"You're here today, so you clearly have an attorney-client relationship with someone," Lane told Kristine Manoukian, a lawyer for Schulte Roth & Zabel who represents Cambridge Analytica. She told the court the law firm wouldn't accept subpoenas and had no company representatives to offer for testimony, and that it might withdraw as the firm's counsel.

Salvatore LaMonica, a trustee for the estate, said there are "minimal assets" which will be depleted quickly if more litigation ensues, and said the Facebook users are "way down the line" in terms of requests for information, after those from the Federal Bureau of Investigation and several U.S. Attorneys General.

Read the whole piece:
Facebook Users Demand Cambridge Analytica Secrets in Bankruptcy [bloomberg.com]