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It said the information was deleted at Facebook's request, and that it has been in touch with the U.K. ICO since February 2017. The row has sparked a major crisis for Facebook, prompting investigations on both sides of the Atlantic and sending its share price plunging amid fears of additional regulation that could affect its business model.

Investigators from Britain's data watchdog searched the London offices of Cambridge Analytica, the data analytics firm at the centre of a storm over allegations it improperly harvested Facebook data to target USA voters.

The data watchdog's probe comes amid whistleblower accusations that CA, hired by Donald Trump during his primary campaign, illegally mined tens of millions of users' Facebook data and then used it to target potential voters. "We will now need to assess and consider the evidence before deciding the next steps and coming to any conclusions". A whistleblower detailed how users' data was illegally acquired and used to build profiles of American voters ahead of the 2016 U.S. presidential election.

The research was further used for advertising campaigns, including the one in support of Republican Sen. "We have not undertaken any paid or unpaid work for them, OK?" There have also been allegations that Cambridge Analytica may have ties with Indian political entities.

Christopher Wylie who has been part of Cambridge Analytica firm told Observer that the firm used personal details of Facebook users in 2014 to screen USA citizens and then generate personalized political advertisements for them.

"The company (CA) believed that the data had been obtained in line with Facebook's terms of service and data protection laws", Tayler said. But he seems less certain whether other copies might not have existed as he says the company "began the process of searching for and removing any of its derivatives in our system".

In a statement Friday, the company reiterated its previous claims that it did not use any of the data during its work for Trump.

"We are now undertaking an independent third-party audit to verify that we do not hold any GSR data", Taylor adds.

Earlier, the Information Commission Office Twitter account posted: "ICO granted warrant: We're pleased with the decision of the judge and we plan to execute the warrant shortly".