British Columbia

Green Party hired Aggregate IQ prior to last election but says no evidence data misused

Two of British Columbia's three major political parties now say they had a relationship with the Victoria-based company near the centre of a global political scandal.

Controversial Victoria company was also hired by 3 B.C. Liberal candidates last election

The Victoria, B.C., headquarters of Aggregate IQ, the marketing and software development company under investigation in the United Kingdom and British Columbia for possible privacy breaches. (CBC News)

Two of British Columbia's three major political parties now say they had a relationship with the Victoria-based company near the centre of a global controversy over online privacy.

The B.C. Green Party told its members on Thursday it hired Aggregate IQ prior to the last election to create a new voter database and website. It said its relationship with Aggregate IQ ended early, after it "determined that the project was not meeting our priorities."

Stefan Jonsson, the party's communication director, said it reviewed the relationship after AIQ found itself under renewed scrutiny for its role in the Brexit referendum and possible connections with Cambridge Analytica, which harvested the profiles of 50 million Facebook users. 

"We were quite concerned about the information they had had access to two years ago. And so, we initiated a review in our office of the entire relationship," he said. 

Jonsson said the investigation turned up no wrongdoing, and AIQ told the party it deleted the data it had upon termination of the contract. 

"It alleviates our concerns as far as the situation allows. I think we've done our due diligence and have been proactive in this," he said.

"If there is any reason to suspect we need to escalate this further, we will, but for the time being we feel satisfied that there is no evidence that anyone's data was misused."

Worked for 3 B.C. Liberal candidates

AIQ also did work for Todd Stone during his leadership campaign for the B.C. Liberal Party and worked for three of its candidates during last year's provincial election: defeated Saanich South candidate David Calder, and winning candidates Doug Clovechok and Mike de Jong, who was finance minister at the time. 

"My understanding is that the company provided digital marketing services similar to those provided by many other Canadian social media vendors," said B.C. Liberal communications manager Meghan Pritchard. 

B.C. NDP president Craig Keating said neither the party nor any candidates have hired AIQ in the past. 

The company is under investigation by both the U.K.'s Electoral Commission and the U.K. information commissioner for its role in the EU referendum, as well as British Columbia's information and privacy commissioner.

Repeated requests for comment by CBC News to AIQ on the nature of its work have not been returned, but it has previously said that "Aggregate IQ works in full compliance within all legal and regulatory requirements in all jurisdictions where it operates" and "has never knowingly been involved in any illegal activity."


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