Facebook suspends Canadian company allegedly linked to UK Leave campaign

It is already at the centre of an Electoral Commission probe into whether Vote Leave tried to dodge spending limits by paying money to an affiliated group

Cambridge Analytica is at the centre of a row over whether it used the personal data of millions of Facebook users to sway the outcome of the United States 2016 presidential election and the UK Brexit referendum.

Speaking to the BBC's Andrew Marr, Chris Wylie said the British vote to leave the European Union needed "a democratic mandate". Previously, it had said: "Without a doubt, the Vote Leave campaign owes a great deal of its success to the work of AggregateIQ".

Facebook has suspended the company over accusations that AIQ is connected to SCL, the parent company of Cambridge Analytica, and may have improperly accessed Facebook data. AggregateIQ has never been and is not a part of Cambridge Analytica or SCL.

The Canadian federal agency charged with protecting privacy rights of individuals said on Thursday that the agency, along with its counterpart in British Columbia, would jointly investigate Facebook and AggregateIQ over the ongoing data scandal.

"Our internal review continues, and we will cooperate fully with any investigations by regulatory authorities".

It adds: "Aggregate IQ has never managed, nor did we ever have access to, any Facebook data or database allegedly obtained improperly by Cambridge Analytica".

An ex-volunteer with the campaign has also claimed Vote Leave donated £625,000 to another group to get around campaign spending limits, with most of the money going to AIQ.

AIQ was paid £2.7m by the Vote Leave campaign ahead of the 2016 referendum. Whistleblower Christopher Wylie explained that AIQ was not the independent data broker it made itself out to be: "Essentially it was set up as a Canadian entity for people who wanted to work on SCL projects who didn't want to move to London. We couldn't have done it without them".

Wylie reportedly handed data on AIQ's alleged connections to SCL over to British Ministers of Parliament two weeks ago. Facebook has since said the number of people affected could be closer to 87m.

The UK's Information Commissioner is now investigating 30 firms, including Facebook, as part of a wider look at the use of personal data for political gain.

Facebook has additionally suspended a data analytics firm called Cubeyou, ahead of an investigation.

He said that one million British Facebook users were put at risk in 2014 as data harvesters exploited their digital clones by targeting not just users of a specific app, but the friends of those people who didn't even necessarily use the app. It is meant "to predict a user's personality based on the pages s/he liked on Facebook".



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