British Information Commissioner Elizabeth Denham told Britain’s Channel 4 News on Monday that her office will seek a warrant to search the offices of Cambridge Analytica.
Denham said she issued “demand for access” to the London-based political consulting firm on March 7, and gave the data firm until 6 p.m. Monday, March 19, to comply. “I’m not accepting their response,” she told Channel 4, and has instructed her office to apply to the courts for a warrant on Tuesday.
Denham added that her office specifically intends to search Cambridge Analytica’s databases and servers, in order to “understand how data was processed or deleted by Cambridge Analytica. There are a lot of conflicting stories.”
Denham also said her office has been conducting a wide-scale investigation into the firm’s practices, particularly as it pertains to the mining of personal data. The investigation is part of a probe involving Cambridge Analytica, Facebook and 30 different organizations and political parties.
The announcement comes amid a public relations catastrophe that includes video in which the company’s CEO appeared to offer election tampering as one of his company’s services. On Monday, Channel 4 published the 19-minute video showing Cambridge chief Alexander Nix bragging about using bribes and sex workers to entrap politicians on behalf of his clients.
And over the weekend, The New York Times published a damning report that the firm circumvented Facebook’s regulations to secretly collect data from 50 million social media profiles, in order to target political ads. The report quoted whistleblower Christopher Wylie, who helped found the data firm and worked there until 2014.
Cambridge Analytica did not immediately respond to requests for comment.