Britain's information commissioner plans to apply for a warrant to access the servers of Cambridge Analytica, which allegedly used data mined from Facebook to help Donald Trump win the 2016 presidential election.
Commissioner Elizabeth Denham said in a statement Monday that she would request the warrant because Cambridge Analytica had been uncooperative with her investigation into whether the company illegally acquired and used Facebook data.
"This is a complex and far-reaching investigation for my office and any criminal or civil enforcement actions arising from it will be pursued vigorously," she said.
Denham launched her investigation after weekend reports that Cambridge Analytica improperly used information from more than 50 million Facebook accounts. Facebook has suspended the company from the social network while it investigates the claims.
Facebook said Monday that it has put its own audit of the claims on hold at the request of the U.K. information commissioner.
The New York Times and the U.K.'s Guardian newspaper reported that the U.K.-based company obtained Facebook account data without the users' knowledge and retained it after claiming it had been deleted. Chris Wylie, who once worked for Cambridge Analytica, was quoted as saying the company used the data to build psychological profiles so voters could be targeted with ads and stories.
Cambridge Analytica says the information was acquired from a contractor who was contractually obligated to comply with data-protection laws. None of the data was used in the Trump campaign, the company said.
"I'm not accepting their response so therefore I'll be applying to the court for a warrant," Denham told Britain's Channel 4. "We need to get in there, we need to look at the databases, we need to look at the servers and understand how data was processed or deleted by Cambridge Analytica."
The scandal has also triggered calls for further investigation from the European Union, as well as federal and state officials in the United States.
The head of the EU parliament said Monday that the bloc will investigate Facebook's role in the case.
"Allegations of misuse of Facebook user data is an unacceptable violation of our citizens' privacy rights," Antonio Tajani tweeted. "The European Parliament will investigate fully, calling digital platforms to account."
U.S. Sen. Ron Wyden of Oregon and Connecticut Attorney General George Jepsen, both Democrats, have sought written responses from Facebook. Massachusetts Attorney General Maura Healey, also a Democrat, promised an investigation.
U.K. lawmakers have already called on Facebook CEO Mark Zuckerberg to testify before a parliamentary committee.
Associated Press Writers Nick Jesdanun and Barbara Ortutay in New York contributed to this story