Two of Canada’s privacy watchdogs will combine their efforts, and their files, to do a joint investigation of Facebook and AggregateIQ, according to the Office of the Privacy Commissioner of Canada.
The federal office will be working with the Office of the Information and Privacy Commissioner for British Columbia. The purpose of the investigation will be to examine the two firms’ compliance with the federal privacy law governing the private sector, the Personal Information Protection and Electronic Documents Act (PIPEDA), and B.C.’s Personal Information Protection Act.
The joint investigation comes after the B.C. privacy watchdog opened its investigation into AggregateIQ late last year and the federal office announced its latest investigation into Facebook late last month. Both firms are tied up in the same unauthorized use of data from Facebook’s social network, with AggregateIQ linked to political campaign data services firm Cambridge Analytica. On Wednesday, Facebook revealed that as many as 87 million users were caught up in the data breach, including the data of 622,000 Canadians.
Aside from announcing the joint investigation, the Privacy Commissioner’s statement had few other details. AggregateIQ was the subject of a data breach report from cyber security vendor UpGaurd at the end of last year. It says it found a large code repository of AggregateIQ’s left online in a publicly accessible location. In that repository was a sort of digital campaign toolkit of applications, data management programs, ad trackers, and information databases. Combined together, it allowed all the necessary means to target individuals with political messages via phone calls, emails, websites, and Facebook ads.
Cambridge Analytica and Canadian Christopher Wylie has spoken about the origins of AggregateIQ to The Guardian. He describes it as a Canadian entity for SCL Elections, the parent company of Cambridge Analytica.
Cambridge Analytica collected data from Facebook under the guise of academic purposes, but then used it to target political ads during the U.S. Presidential election, Wylie claims.
In its response, Facebook says that its terms of service were broken by Cambridge Analytica and it requested all data be deleted from its servers. The U.K. privacy commissioner is conducting an investigation into Cambridge Analytica.