Facebook suspends Brexit data firm over alleged Cambridge Analytica link

9 Apr 2018195 Views

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Cambridge Analytica and AIQ whistleblower Christopher Wylie. Image: Dominic Dudley/Shutterstock

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Facebook suspends AIQ as the fallout from Cambridge Analytica continues.

Canadian data firm AggregateIQ (AIQ) has been suspended from Facebook’s platform following numerous reports drawing links between the company and SCL, Cambridge Analytica’s parent company.

In a statement, Facebook said: “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.

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

AIQ was intensively involved with the Vote Leave campaign and was paid by pro-Leave Brexit groups.

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. That’s how AIQ got started: originally to service SCL and Cambridge Analytica projects.”

Since Wylie’s allegations materialised, AIQ has repeatedly denied any involvement with Cambridge Analytica. “AggregateIQ has never been and is not a part of Cambridge Analytica or SCL. Aggregate IQ has never entered into a contract with Cambridge Analytica. Chris Wylie has never been employed by AggregateIQ.

“AggregateIQ has never managed, nor did we ever have access to, any Facebook data or database allegedly obtained improperly by Cambridge Analytica.”

The Guardian has found links between both companies, as a founding AIQ member was listed on Cambridge Analytica’s website as working at ‘SCL Canada’ and AIQ’s only client until 2016 was Cambridge Analytica.

AIQ previously erased a quote from Dominic Cummings, Vote Leave’s chief strategist, from the homepage of its website. It had read: “Without a doubt, the Vote Leave campaign owes a great deal of its success to the work of AggregateIQ. We couldn’t have done it without them.”

Zuckerberg to answer tough questions

CEO Mark Zuckerberg is to face US Congress on Tuesday and Wednesday (10 and 11 April), where US officials will have plenty of questions about the Cambridge Analytica furore and the surrounding scandal. Senator John Neely Kennedy said on Sunday (9 April) that he was in favour of regulating the company amid the ongoing slew of revelations.

According to The Washington Post, he said: “I don’t want to hurt Facebook. I don’t want to regulate them half to death. But we have a problem. Our promised digital utopia has minefields in it … But my biggest worry with all of this is that the privacy issue and what I call the propagandist issue are both too big for Facebook to fix, and that’s the frightening part.”

Lawmakers will likely be seeking more specific answers from Zuckerberg and his vision for the future of the company.

Cambridge Analytica and AIQ whistleblower Christopher Wylie. Image: Dominic Dudley/Shutterstock

Ellen Tannam is a writer covering all manner of business and tech subjects

editorial@siliconrepublic.com