Wednesday, July 24, 2024

A controversial Victoria company accessed the BC Green Party’s voter database in 2016


As reported last week, the scandal engulfing Facebook and making international headlines has a surprisingly local angle. But it turns out, being whistleblower Chris Wylie’s hometown isn’t the only connection Victoria has to the Cambridge Analytica data-mining story.

In fact, a company in the downtown core – and its association with the BC Green Party – appears to be thickening the plot significantly.

AggregateIQ Hired in 2016

The Tyee reported today that AggregateIQ, a digital advertising, web and software development company headquartered on Pandora Avenue, was hired by the BC Green Party to build a website and create new customer relations management software in 2016.

But along with those tasks, AggregateIQ – which has been linked to SCL (Cambridge Analytica’s parent company) – also reportedly received access to the BC Green Party’s voter database.

Of that data, BC Green Party director of communications Stefan Jonsson told the Tyee that much of it was from four constituencies on Vancouver Island: Oak Bay-Gordon Head, Saanich North and the Islands, Esquimalt-Royal Roads and Victoria-Beacon Hill.

Information from those constituencies was kept because they were considered “winnable”. Indeed, two of those – Saanich North and the Islands as well as Oak Bay-Gordon Head – were ultimately won by the BC Greens.

Use of Information Unclear

As with many of the stories surrounding Cambridge Analytica and Facebook, what exactly AggregateIQ did with the voter data remains unclear.

Jonsson told the Tyee that the party had “holes in our knowledge” regarding the project due to changes in staff since that time.

But the BC Greens believe that nothing inappropriate happened with the data, and said that AggregateIQ told the party that it has since deleted the information.

BC Green Party
Left to right: BC Green Party MLAs Sonia Furstenau, Andrew Weaver, and Adam Olsen – Photo via Twitter @BCGreens

According to Jonsson, while AggregateIQ completed the website, its customer relations management software work took too long to be ready in time to use for the 2017 election, so the Greens ended the relationship.

Statement Released and Notifications Incoming

In a statement on their website posted on March 24, AggregateIQ wrote that it “has never been and is not a part of Cambridge Analytica or SCL… [And] AggregateIQ works in full compliance within all legal and regulatory requirements in all jurisdictions where it operates. It has never knowingly been involved in any illegal activity.”

Still, the BC Green Party is preparing to notify tens of thousands of people in B.C. that AggregateIQ had access to their personal information for approximately eight months in the run-up to the 2017 election.

In a release, the BC Greens stated that “To prevent this in the future, we are hiring an IT staff person whose responsibilities will include clear documentation of the details of work by third-party contractors who are granted access to our data.”

Alistair Ogden
Former staff writer at Victoria Buzz.

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