Brazilian prosecutors on Wednesday said they had opened an investigation into whether London-based political consultancy Cambridge Analytica acted illegally in Brazil, as controversy over the firm’s data harvesting practices spreads across the globe.
Prosecutors for Brazil’s Federal District, which includes Brasilia, the capital, have said in a written statement that they will look into whether the firm, through its partnership with Sao Paulo-based consulting group A Ponte Estrategia Planejamento e Pesquisa LTDA, illegally used the data of millions of Brazilians to create psycho-graphic profiles.
Prosecutors from a specialized data unit will look into whether there were security breaches that allowed the firm to illegally access personal data.
Regulators and lawmakers in the United States and Europe have demanded an explanation of how the consulting firm, which worked on U.S. President Donald Trump’s election campaign, gained access to data on 50 million Facebook Inc users in order to build voter profiles.
Reports on Monday said that the firm may have improperly gained access to the data, and Cambridge Analytica has since suspended its chief executive Alexander Nix, while Facebook CEO Mark Zuckerberg has said his company made mistakes in its handling of user data. By many measures, Brazil is Facebook’s third largest market.
André Torretta, the president of the Brazilian firm, is known as a pioneer in specialized consulting among Brazil's C-suite business leaders. He is also the founder of Data Popular, a research institute dedicated to studying the habits of CEOs and other executives. Torreta has also taken part in political campaigns in the past.
It added, Ponte is keen to make it clear that in 10 years of acting, we have always been guided by ethics and transparency in our business.