A joint investigation by watchdogs in Canada and British Columbia has found that Cambridge Analytica-linked data firm, Aggregate IQ, broke privacy laws in Facebook ad-targeting work it undertook for the official Vote Leave Brexit campaign in the UK’s 2016 EU referendum.
A quick reminder: Vote Leave was the official leave campaign in the referendum on the UK’s membership of the European Union. While Cambridge Analytica is the (now defunct) firm at the center of a massive Facebook data misuse scandal which has dented the company’s fortunes and continues to tarnish its reputation.
Vote Leave’s campaign director, Dominic Cummings — now a special advisor to the UK prime minister — wrote in 2017 that the winning recipe for the leave campaign was data science. And, more specifically, spending 98% of its marketing budget on “nearly a billion targeted digital adverts”.
Targeted at Facebook users.
The problem is, per the Canadian watchdogs’ conclusions, AIQ did not have proper legal consents from UK voters for disclosing their personal information to Facebook for the Brexit ad blitz which Cummings ordered.
Either for “the purpose of advertising to those individuals (via ‘custom audiences’) or for the purpose of analyzing their traits and characteristics in order to locate and target others like them (via ‘lookalike audiences’)”.
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