MM events

Facebook suspends data firm used by Brexit Vote Leave campaign

Tim Maytom

Facebook has suspended Canadian data firm AggregateIQ (AIQ) from accessing its data services over reports that it may have improperly received users' data. AIQ,  which played a key role in the campaign for the UK to leave the EU, allegedly had links to Cambridge Analytica, the consultancy accused of improperly accessing the data of millions of Facebook users.

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.

"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," said a Facebook spokesperson. "Our internal review continues, and we will co-operate fully with any investigations by regulatory authorities."

AIQ was paid £2.7m by the Vote Leave campaign ahead of the 2016 referendum. A former volunteer for the campaign also claims that Vote Leave donated £625,000 to another group, most of which went to AIQ, in an effort to get around campaign spending limits. Vote Leave has denied any wrongdoing.

In total, AIQ was given £3.5m by groups campaigning for Britain to leave the EU, including Vote Leave, the Democratic Unionist Party and Veterans for Britain. Until recently, the company's website featured a quote from Vote Leave chief Dominic Cummings, stating that "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."

"AggregateIQ has never managed, nor did we ever have access to, any Facebook data or database allegedly obtained improperly by Cambridge Analytica," said an AggregateIQ spokesperson in a statement on their website. The statement also affirms that the company is "100 per cent Canadian owned and operated" and "has never been and is not a part of Cambridge Analytica or SCL".