Data Firm at Center of Facebook Controversy Planned $30 Million ICO: Report

Cambridge Analytica, a British data analytics firm, was planning to raise as much as $30 million by issuing a new cryptocurrency through an ICO before it got swept up in a scandal surrounding the misuse of Facebook Inc. personal data, sources familiar with the matter told Reuters on Tuesday.

Cambridge Analytica had approached a company that advises companies on how structuring ICOs, the sources said.

Current Plans Uncertain

Cambridge Analytica’s current plans are unknown. An unnamed spokesman said the company is considering using blockchain to help secure its online data, but did not comment on the ICO.

The company was creating technologies to allow people to reclaim personal data and gain complete transparency over how their data is used before the Facebook controversy erupted, the spokesperson said in an email to Reuters.

Cambridge Analytica worked for U.S. President Donald Trump’s 2016 election campaign and has faced scrutiny over the past month after the Observer and the New York Times reported that the firm improperly gained access to personal data on millions of Facebook users. Facebook earlier this month acknowledged data from more than 87 million users could have been compromised.

Cambridge Analytica has said it properly licensed data on a much smaller number of users from a research firm.

Chief Executive Left Company

The company’s effort to provide personal data protection was overseen by its chief executive, Alexander Nix, who left in March after being tape recorded boasting about the company’s use of shell companies and strategies to help politicians entrap opponents, The New York Times reported.

The New York Times also reported Cambridge Analytica attempted to promote the Dragon Coin, a coin associated with a Macau gangster known as Broken Tooth. Dragon coin was to be used by gamblers and make it easier for people to get money to Macau casinos.

Facebook, meanwhile, is curtailing misleading and deceptive ad practices, including ICOs, cryptocurrencies and binary options, banning ads that “promote financial products and services that are frequently associated with misleading or deceptive promotional practices.”

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