April 6, 2018 8:08 pm
Updated: April 6, 2018 9:18 pm

Facebook suspends AggregateIQ over alleged ties with data harvesting operation

The British government has released a paper trail linking a Canadian company to the Facebook data scandal. More than 100 pages of evidence, submitted by Canadian whistleblower Christopher Wylie, reveal how AggregateIQ worked on political campaigns around the world. Jeff Semple reports.

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AggregateIQ (AIQ), based in B.C.’s capital, has been suspended from Facebook after whistleblower Christopher Wylie alleged the company built the software that helped the Republican Party manage its voter database, target specific voters and conduct canvassing.

Reports also surfaced detailing AIQ’s alleged ties to Cambridge Analytica, and to the U.K.’s Vote Leave campaign during the Brexit referendum.

READ MORE: Whistleblower says Victoria company AIQ worked on software to find Republican voters

“In light of recent reports that AggregateIQ may be affiliated with SCL and may, as a result, have improperly received FB user data, we have added them to the list of entities we have suspended from our platform while we investigate,” read a statement from Facebook to Global News.

SCL is Cambridge Analytica’s parent company.

WATCH: Wylie says AggregateIQ played dirty in multiple international elections


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AIQ, which specializes in online advertising, is currently under investigation by the Office of the Privacy Commissioner of Canada and its B.C. counterpart. The federal agency is investigating whether the firm, along with Facebook and Cambridge Analytica, were in compliance with Canada’s Personal Information Protection and Electronic Documents Act, as well as B.C.’s Personal Information Protection Act.

“Our internal review continues, and we will cooperate fully with any investigations by regulatory authorities,” said a Facebook spokesperson via email.

READ MORE: Federal, B.C. privacy commissioners launch joint probe into Facebook, AggregateIQ

Britan’s information commissioner is also looking into AIQ’s work, as part of an investigation into whether or not any laws were broken during the Brexit referendum campaign.

Last week, the BC Greens said they worked with the Victoria-based company briefly in 2016, noting they had asked the company to work on a new voter contact database and a website. But according to the party, the relationship ended after it was determined the project was “not meeting” its priorities.

WATCH: Brexit ‘Vote Leave’ campaign allegedly used B.C. firm to skirt U.K. laws

The party said they had launched a review to ensure no voter data had been misused.

Leaders of both AIQ and Vote Leave deny any wrongdoing. Last month, Cambridge Analytica said it has not had any communication with AIQ since December 2015.

READ MORE: How a B.C. company allegedly helped Brexiters skirt U.K. laws and made millions doing it

Global News has reached out to AIQ for comment, but in a previous statement the company said it has worked “in full compliance within all legal and regulatory requirements in all jurisdictions where we operate.”

The company also said it has never managed, nor did have access to, any Facebook data or database allegedly obtained “improperly by Cambridge Analytica.”

— With files from Patrick Cain, Jesse Ferreras, Jeff Semple and Reuters

© 2018 Global News, a division of Corus Entertainment Inc.

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