Canadian whistleblower at centre of privacy scandal to testify in UK

He had alleged Cambridge Analytica used data harvested from Facebook users to help Trump in 2016

The Canadian computer expert who sparked a global debate over electronic privacy said Tuesday that the official campaign backing Britain’s exit from the European Union had access to data that was inappropriately collected from millions of Facebook users.

Christopher Wylie previously alleged that political consultancy Cambridge Analytica used data harvested from more than 50 million Facebook users to help U.S. President Donald Trump’s 2016 election campaign. Wylie worked on Cambridge Analytica’s “information operations” in 2014 and 2015.

Wylie on Tuesday told the media committee of the British parliament that he “absolutely” believed Canadian consultant AggregateIQ drew on Cambridge Analytica’s databases for its work on the official Vote Leave campaign. The data could have been used to micro-target voters in the closely fought referendum in which 51.9 per cent of voters ultimately backed Brexit.

“I think it is incredibly reasonable to say that AIQ played a very significant role in Leave winning,” he said.

Because of the links between the two companies, Vote Leave got the “the next best thing” to Cambridge Analytica when it hired AggregateIQ, “a company that can do virtually everything that (Cambridge Analytica) can do but with a different billing name,” Wylie said.

The testimony comes a day after Wylie and two other former insiders presented 50 pages of documents that they said proved Vote Leave violated election finance rules during the referendum campaign.

They allege that Vote Leave circumvented spending limits by donating 625,000 pounds ($888,000) to the pro-Brexit student group BeLeave, then sending the money directly to AggregateIQ.

Campaign finance rules limited Vote Leave’s spending on the Brexit referendum to 7 million pounds. When Vote Leave got close to that limit in the final weeks of the campaign, it made the donation to BeLeave, said Shahmir Sanni, a volunteer who helped run the grassroots student group.

Wylie told Britain’s Observer newspaper that he was instrumental in founding AggregateIQ when he was the research director of SCL, the parent company of Cambridge Anayltica. He said they shared underlying technology and worked so closely together that Cambridge Analytica staff often referred to the Canadian firm as a “department.”

AggregateIQ, based in Victoria, B.C., issued a statement saying it has never been part of Cambridge Analytica and has never signed a contract with the company. The company also said it was 100-per cent Canadian owned and operated and was never part of Cambridge Analytica or SCL.

“AggregateIQ works in full compliance within all legal and regulatory requirements in all jurisdictions where it operates,” the company said in a statement. “It has never knowingly been involved in any illegal activity. All work AggregateIQ does for each client is kept separate from every other client.’”

Danica Kirka, The Associated Press

Just Posted

Salmon runs produce highs and lows on Vancouver Island this year

Department of Fisheries and Oceans Canada releases information bulletin

Customers at new Quality Foods finding spare change for Coins for Kids

Charity getting a boost from new bigger, busier Harewood location

Handmade Christmas presents helped support schools foundation

NANAIMO – Handmade for the Holidays craft fair was held Friday and Saturday at NDSS

LETTER TO THE EDITOR: It’s better to solve noise problem than to move away

I think it is preferable to try to solve a problem with negotiation and advocacy, says letter writer

Gift givers encouraged to ‘give library’ this holiday season

Specially packaged library cards available for Nanaimo residents

VIDEO: This B.C. school leads country in vaccine donations to UNICEF

Federally funded Kids Boost Immunity uses quizzes to earn vaccinations

Chamber wants to know about Nanaimo’s best Christmas light displays

Greater Nanaimo Chamber of Commerce, News Bulletin partner on Spirit of Christmas Light Up

Boeser scores 3, Pettersson has 5 points as Canucks hammer Blues

Vancouver picks up impressive 6-1 win in St. Louis

Snuneymuxw chief says women’s transition house ‘responds to a need’

Province provides update on indigenous women’s shelter project in Nanaimo

Nanaimo councillors nudge potential tax increase down to 4.97 per cent

Budget deliberations continued this week, e-town hall meeting is Dec. 10

B.C. police stop drunk driver who offered up burger instead of ID

Roadblock checks over the weekend found at least two other impaired drivers

In Canada, the term ‘nationalism’ doesn’t seem to have a bad rap. Here’s why

Data suggest that Canadians don’t see the concept of nationalism the way people do in the United States

Small quake recorded west of Vancouver Island

No injuries or tsunami warning after 5.4 rumble felt some 400 kilometres from Victoria

B.C. suspends Chinese portion of Asian forestry trade mission due to Huawei arrest

Huawei’s chief financial officer Meng Wanzhou was detained at the request of U.S. in Vancouver

Most Read