Notices of Meeting include information about the subject matter to be examined by the committee and date, time and place of the meeting, as well as a list of any witnesses scheduled to appear. The Evidence is the edited and revised transcript of what is said before a committee. The Minutes of Proceedings are the official record of the business conducted by the committee at a sitting.
The solemn affirmation is as follows, if you can repeat after me:
I—state your name—do solemnly, sincerely, and truly affirm and declare the taking of any oath is according to my religious belief unlawful. And I do also solemnly, sincerely and truly affirm and declare that the evidence I shall give on this examination shall be the truth, the whole truth and nothing but the truth.
I, Zack Massingham, do solemnly, truly, and sincerely affirm and declare the taking of any oath is according to my religious belief unlawful. And I do also solemnly, sincerely and truly affirm and declare that the evidence I shall give on this examination shall be the truth, the whole truth and nothing but the truth.
Good morning, Mr. Massingham. Thank you very much for being here.
I'm going to go back to a question I had asked Mr. Silvester when he appeared here prior to the summer break. I asked him about querying data in the Ripon program that features an option for a disengagement target. Chris Vickery had uncovered evidence that in the Ripon voter querying data, there is an option for a disengagement target.
What do you understand the purpose of this value to be?
Okay, but you would have understood how it worked, wouldn't you? As a co-owner of the company, you would have understood the product that you were selling. You may not have produced the product, but you would have understood what the value of the product was, wouldn't you?
I believe that what you're referring to there is one of SCL's scores. I'm not familiar with all their scores or any of the different things that were there. I think Jeff could probably speak to that better than I could.
When you produced the product, you never did a run-through of the product. You didn't understand how the product worked.
Since you were going to sell the product.... I mean, the first thing they teach you in business is that you have to understand your product to sell it. I don't understand how you wouldn't know this, especially if it's a value that was purposely put into a program.
You were contracted by WPA to provide a product and you had no inclination to ask where the product was going to go or how it would be used? Was it just about doing the work and forgetting about the repercussions?
No, I'm not disagreeing with what you provided. Let's just keep this very simple in business ways. You're a businessman and I'm a businessman. Let's keep it very simple.
You're contracted by somebody to produce a product. The product you're producing is for WPA. WPA is using that product in Ukraine or has business in Ukraine. You never knew that was where the product was going to go, that was where it was going to be used, why it was being used, what purpose it was being used for? You had no idea of any of that?
I get that it's a tool. It's a tool—it's a hammer, it's a screwdriver. I get all of that, but you didn't know where it was going to be used?
It was recently reported that you have developed a script that makes fake work logs. Can you tell me why you developed a script, for which client, whether you have ever used it in Canada, and whether you've ever used it yourself?
Yes, but on June 24, 2016, he made a comment in which he thanked UKIP—the United Kingdom Independence Party—for the free money. Do you know what he meant by that? Was it anything to do with Brexit? What money might he be referring to?
An awful lot has happened since you testified before us.
In July, the Information Commissioner's Office in the United Kingdom issued an enforcement notice ordering the company to stop handling data belonging to British citizens. At the same time, although unnoticed until the last couple of weeks, the Information Commissioner's Office accused AggregateIQ and issued the first violation notice under the European Union General Data Protection Regulation, accusing AggregateIQ of violating articles 5, 6, and 14 of the GDPR “because [it]...processed personal data in a way that the data subjects were not aware of, for purposes,” as they say, “which they would not have expected, and without a lawful basis for that processing.”
I understand AggregateIQ is appealing that notice of violation. What can you tell us about that?
We have appealed that issue. We've had a very good dialogue with the ICO. They have recognized that the notice was far too broad, saying that “on further consideration, the Commissioner accepts that the terms of the notice were overly broad”. Accordingly, she has invited the tribunal to substitute a notice with annex 1, basically saying that once we have completed the Office of the Information Commissioner and Office of the Privacy Commissioner investigations, we will simply delete the 1,000 or so email addresses that we had.
In your earlier testimony with Mr. Silvester, you were asked whether or not you sought legal counsel with the knowledge that you may have violated the new GDPR rules or the previous U.K. data protection rules.
You denied that you'd sought legal counsel at that time. Do you still hold that position?
Well, it is in the testimony. I think the concern of the British Information Commissioner is that in disregard of the rules and because you still possessed the data at the time after the GDPR came into effect, in effect you were violating the section that says that collection of data from European residents, from British residents, without consent for the manipulation, the processing, and the handling that might later occur—data that is transferred to foreign locations and then reintroduced to electoral processes—is in fact a violation of the new law.
One of the questions we were trying to figure out with the BeLeave campaign was you were paid basically about a million dollars Canadian for about six days' work, and there was very little data gathered in that time. Mr. Silvester explained that your role with the project wasn't to collect data but to place ads.
The U.K. Information Commissioner's Office reports that “BeLeave did not...run any ads, albeit their electoral returns indicates they committed expenditure to this”, and the privacy commissioner also found that the BeLeave campaign didn't run any ads.
Remember you're under oath, because this is a big issue. If two independent reports said you didn't place any ads and you tell our committee you did place ads, it's hard to believe you over two independent commissions that were not working together that said BeLeave did not place any ads, so what did you do with the million dollars Canadian that you were paid for six days' work?
Okay, because in the drive, there were ad mock-ups, so you had set up ad mock-ups, but they said that there were no ads actually run.
In the Slack logs, where you tell Mr. Grimes—who is the 22-year-old student who suddenly has a million dollars Canadian to spend—that he's on track to spend $300,000, what were you spending that $300,000 on?
I believe that in the chat log you're referring to, Darren was asking if it would be possible that he'd redirect some of the money that had gone to us back to him for other campaign purposes. That never actually happened.
From Vote Leave, yes, because he says that's fine and that Victoria is sorting this out—Victoria Woodcock.
What the electoral commission and the privacy commission in the U.K. found was that there was a breach of British electoral law based on a plan to circumvent the finance limits between BeLeave and Vote Leave, and between those two is your organization, which is the conduit for that money. Do you accept the findings that your work was involved in breaking British electoral law and undermining the legitimacy of the Brexit vote?
We never saw any evidence of coordination while we were there conducting work for either organization. In Facebook's own report, they have shown that BeLeave placed those ads, so I'm very confused as to how things are being interpreted now.
I'm very confused too. You say you saw no evidence of coordination, and Mr. Silvester says almost to a T what you just said, “We never saw any evidence of coordination.”
You guys come out of nowhere and you get a million dollars from BeLeave. You get $5 million Canadian from Vote Leave. You're the conduit in a campaign that's been found guilty of breaching electoral laws. You're asking, “Should I get money for you?” and you say you see no coordination at all?
How do you get into this business if you don't do due diligence? Otherwise, you're getting played a total sap here. How can you tell us that you didn't see that coordination?
Okay. One of the documents we have is the picture that was leaked by Sanni. It's you at the Vote Leave headquarters with Steve Parkinson of Vote Leave, and there's the Thames and Westminster in the background. That's also where the campaign for BeLeave was, right?
Christopher Wylie said that you were set up as “a proxy money-laundering vehicle” between these two campaigns. You say you don't know where their organization headquarters was or if it even had one. You are coordinating money between the two, and they've been found guilty of setting up a plan to circumvent the electoral laws; they said you spent no money on ads, and you're telling us you did.
Credibly, if you're going to do international work, how did you get set up to play the patsy, unless you were involved?
You don't understand my question? How is it possible that this campaign was found guilty of breaching electoral finance laws? Chris Wylie said that you were set up as the money-laundering vehicle. You're coordinating between two campaigns. There's money flowing back and forth. You say that you spent that money on ads. Two independent reports find that you did not spend on any ads.
If you're the honest guy in all of this, how did you get these contracts? How do you get to do all this international work if you're so easy to play the patsy here?
To follow up on Mr. Angus's questions, you just indicated you're not in the documents, but I just want to make sure I know what document I'm talking about. I have an Electoral Commission report from the summer, July, that lists you repeatedly discussing a common plan between BeLeave and Vote Leave. Is this the document that you don't think you're listed in?
That's interesting. You're the CEO of the company, and the company has been found to be part of a common plan with respect to violations of election finance law in the U.K. and you haven't read the report.
The report is less than 50 pages. Are you aware the report is less than 50 pages?
Let's go with this, then. This is from the Electoral Commission report. Because you haven't read it, let me read some of it to you:
On 11 June 2016 Mr Cummings wrote to Mr Clake saying that Vote Leave had all the money it could spend, and suggesting the following: “However, there is another organisation that could spend your money. Would you be willing to send the 100k to some social media ninjas...?”
You're the “social media ninjas”. Are you aware of that?
While BeLeave may have contributed its own design style and input, the services provided by Aggregate IQ to BeLeave used Vote Leave messaging, at the behest of BeLeave’s campaign director. It also appears to have had the benefit of Vote Leave data and/or data it obtained via online resources set up and provided to it by Vote Leave to target and distribute its campaign material. This is shown by evidence from Facebook that Aggregate IQ used identical target lists for Vote Leave and BeLeave ads....
In answer to Mr. Angus's questions, when you said that AIQ is not referred to in the documents, maybe you should have said, “I didn't read the two specific reports from the Electoral Commission and from the ICO. I don't know if they reference AggregateIQ, because I haven't read them, even though I'm the CEO of the company.”
I believe that was all from work we had done together in early 2015 with SCL during the midterms. The billing and administration item that they were referring to was that they had given money to us to place ads. We were not able to get through all of the budget that they had assigned for that period. We simply directed Facebook to refund the money directly to them, as opposed to us and back.
Well, SCL was the bulk of your business, as I understand from your colleague Mr. Silvester, who knows far more about the business than you do. Who was your main point of contact at SCL for the bulk of the work you did?
I'm going to leave it there, Mr. Massingham, but I'll say this: frankly, I haven't gotten any answers from you. You appeared before before this committee and you lied. You're appearing before us again, and you're just not telling any part of the truth whatsoever.
I can't say you're lying, because I don't know if you've read the reports, but if you haven't read the reports, as the CEO of the company you should be embarrassed for yourself.
At the start of the meeting today, you talked about a software program and said you did not design it yourself since you are not a designer. It was nonetheless intended for certain markets because you marketed it and received money for the services offered by this software. What was the target market for those services?
If, in a development contract, the person who came to us for the work wants the intellectual property, then it's theirs and they own all of that work. In other instances, we have some of our own tools that we license.
It could be any source of data for SCL, or it could be none.
In SCL's case, which is what I think you're asking about, I believe they had multiple sources of data from any number of vendors that they packaged and then used within the software product we built for them.
I don't believe we tracked people by age. Facebook and other ad networks certainly would have reported on interaction, on what types of demographics were interacting with certain messages, and the campaigns would have used this information to make decisions.
We're out of time. Just to make the committee aware, I want to have about 10 or 15 minutes available for committee business at the very end of the meeting. Certainly if we still have questions we'll probably plow through that time and use it for questions, but I just want to let you know that this is the intent today. We have to discuss a few witnesses.
Mr. Baylis, are you okay to go? I was ragging the puck for a while.
Okay. For the questions that you couldn't answer or you weren't sure about, you don't have to answer them right now. You can go through your files. I'm sure you have all that information and you'll be able to get it to me. Is that correct?
Yes, in 2015 and 2016, all the trips you took to the U.K. and who you met on each trip, and all the trips that Mr. Silvester took and who he met, if he did take any. Can you get us all that information?
You can try. Do you have the information or not? I need to know. I'm sure that you do your annual tax returns and you said you follow all the rules, and Revenue Canada would expect that, so do you have the information, yes or no?
They've made claims that they have documents that show that you have been involved in sessions with both BeLeave and Vote Leave. Are they incorrect?
Does that help jog your memory? By chance, regarding this data they have that shows that you were meeting together with BeLeave and Vote Leave at the same time, is it possible that you might have forgotten, that you've been sick?
Okay. They say they have evidence that shows that AIQ set up a Slack channel, a workspace where you allowed both campaigns to discuss their tactics for social media together. Did you do this, yes or no?
They say they have evidence, so I'm just asking you.
Listen, you said that you never met with them together. That's a blanket statement. It doesn't matter if I have 10, 20, or 5,000 books' worth of evidence that it's incorrect. Is their evidence incorrect, yes or no?
Mr. Massingham, I'm going to make it very easy for you. If it starts with a “Y”, it means “yes”, or if it starts with an “N”, it means “no”. You've been a yes-or-no man this whole time, so I'm giving you a yes-or-no question again. Yes or no? You're under oath, Mr. Massingham.
Yes, you can answer it. If someone asks me if I killed someone and says they have a ton of evidence, you know what I'm going to say? I'll say no. I don't care if they have a book's worth of evidence: no, I didn't do it.
Now, I'm asking you a straight question. Is their evidence incorrect, yes or no?
They have evidence. Is it incorrect, yes or no? You haven't done anything, so.... You've made a blanket statement that you've never done any coordination, so is the evidence they have, whatever it may be, incorrect? Yes or no?
I'm not able to share anything. I wouldn't bother anyway. You don't read the reports, so I don't see any point in it.
Anyhow, I'm asking you a straightforward question. You've made a blanket statement that you had no collusion, no work together, nothing. If that's the case, who cares what their evidence is? Just tell me: “Frank, it's wrong. It's no. No, it's wrong. Their information is wrong.” Yes or no? Answer that simple question, please.
I didn't ask you that, and you're under oath. Now, we're going to get an answer out of you sooner or later.
I'm sorry, Mr. Chair, but....
Please, just answer me. You have made a very blanket statement that there was no collusion. These are your words: You were “in full compliance with...all legal and regulatory requirements in all jurisdictions where it operates”.
Those are your words. I have a simple question. Is their evidence incorrect, yes or no?
Mr. Massingham, coming back to the issue of the data that you received in the form you received it, were you aware, or have you been made aware, of Mr. Wylie's testimony before this committee on May 29 of this year?
Well, just to be specific, basically, when you and Mr. Silvester appeared before a committee you denied—again, as you did this morning—receiving any raw data improperly harvested by Facebook.
What Mr. Wylie said—again, this is to the committee in Britain—was this:
You can't build a targeting platform that doesn't have access to data, because then what are you targeting...? One of the things I provided...is an email from AIQ that specifically references searching the SCL databases on the Ripon project.
Mr. Wylie concluded his answer by saying:
Frankly, I'm surprised and really disappointed that Jeff Silvester and Zack Massingham have decided to try to obfuscate or hide what happened. You'll have to ask them why it is that they are taking this line, but in my view
—this is Mr. Wylie's view—
that's just not true. What value would they offer...if they did not use any of the data?
We built a software tool to present their data. We were like software developers for them. Their clients access various audiences to create lists, and we helped SCL service their clients that they had, to help use the tool.
When Mr. Silvester testified in the U.K., he described the Ripon tool as something that would help door-to-door canvassing. Mr. Wylie had again a very different version of Ripon, saying it was the software that directly utilized the algorithms from the Facebook data.
How do you explain this contradiction between what Mr. Silvester testified and what Mr. Wylie testified?
The tool we built for SCL was a plain and simple protocol CRM that contained SCL model data with scores. It would be a name and address, a phone number, sometimes an email, and then turn-up propensity or where you might rate along some issues—stuff like that. That's what was in the Ripon platform.
Modelling didn't happen in Ripon. To the best of my understanding, all that happened within SCL's ecosystem that they built themselves, that took in all the data from various different vendors. What was put into Ripon was only the output of whatever they had done with that.
Can you explain to the committee why you and Mr. Silvester are so isolated in the testimony that you provide to us, that you've provided to the British Office of the Information Commissioner, to the U.K. parliamentary study, and I assume to the B.C. Privacy Commissioner and the Canadian Privacy Commissioner? Why are you so isolated in the facts that you argue, at odds with all the other testimony and the findings of these other commissions that you've misrepresented what the company did?
I think it's because we're telling you the truth. The simple matter of this is that we're software developers. We're not modellers. We help our clients place ads sometimes.
The spin that has been put on these proceedings and reports and findings isn't what we like to go through at all. As you know, it's been quite difficult on me. We would like to help you find the truth, to explain how everything works and our piece of that.
I want to point out that I usually ask my questions in French, except for today. Although our interpreters work very hard, I really want to make sure we understand each other today and do not want to waste any time.
So I will ask you my questions in English.
I would like to take this opportunity, like many of my colleagues here, to reiterate my frustration with your communication with the chair and the clerk of this committee. You've mentioned on numerous occasions your desire to co-operate fully with this committee and our study. I will tell you that my belief has been tested. When you did not appear before us last spring, I was very disappointed. I'm hoping today that we have a conversation that will give me answers.
With that, I'm hopeful you will be able to add some clarity to specific questions.
I'll start, if I may. How many email addresses do you possess? Did you have a BeLeave email address? Did you have a specific—
I'd like to get an understanding of how you invoiced and created insertion orders for the BeLeave campaign and the lead-up to the Brexit vote in 2016, since you have provided us with a number of invoices and insertion orders that I have with me today.
Can you tell me how the invoicing and insertion process worked with the BeLeave campaign, and specifically what directions you were given on how and where this was documented, and how the services were delivered?
BeLeave let us know that they had received a donation and that they would like to engage us and our services. We had a discussion with Mr. Grimes about what he would like to accomplish with the money he had been given: the types of messaging he would like to run, various creatives, what his thoughts were on tone, style and audience, different channels he might like to use, and what he might want to do as a sort of get-out-and-vote effort on the day of the vote.
As I said at the beginning of that answer, they were tied to the donations that he received, so as he received additional money, additional insertion orders were created that we might use as a sub-record of that transaction.
Didn't it seem odd to you that a campaign wouldn't have an overall budget for digital advertising? Did it not raise any flags that they were wiring you larger and larger amounts without explanation of where that came from?
Can you explain to this committee why there's an invoice with your signature on it dated April 30, 2018 for over $500,000 U.S., nearly two years after the Brexit vote and months after this and other similar committees were struck across the globe?
It's a Word document, and the template we use auto-populates the date, so as they were submitted, I imagine they were opened to verify the place where it was and then submitted to you, and that would have re-updated that date.
The last time you were here, we spent a lot of time trying to clarify why you were listed as the head of SCL Canada, trying to track down why you had a phone for SCL Canada. You explained to us that AIQ is an independent Canadian entity. Is that correct?
Before we go, I just want to.... I'm very confused about this issue that in six days a million dollars Canadian went through the BeLeave campaign. The commission is clear. It said that BeLeave did not go on to run any ads, and you said you were running ads. They said that this was a money-laundering vehicle to circumvent the law.
If you were running ads, were you running Vote Leave's ads with the money from BeLeave?
I'm very concerned about the fact that you make certain statements in your testimony and then, when evidence is provided that those statements are not correct, you alter those statements but you're still not particularly forthcoming on this.
For example, when I asked Mr. Silvester about the psychosocial profiles that were used on whom to target the ads to, and whether AIQ still had any of those data or scores in their databases, he said, “We're not a data company, so we have no interest in any of that.”
Now, the U.K. Information Commissioner's office has actually issued an enforcement notice asking you to stop handling the data of U.K. citizens, so clearly we know that you are handling data. Today you said that there was data from SCL, but you have absolutely no idea what the source of that data is.
Are you or were you in possession of large amounts of data that include some form of information, rankings or other information, that was derived from the Facebook breaches?
To say that they were derived from Facebook breaches, I could not be certain.
I know that SCL worked with a number of data vendors and did its own modelling to create a dataset that would be used within the Ripon platform itself.
On the matter of ICO's unfortunate notice, the only data that was there was something akin to a thousand email addresses—no scores, nothing else like that. It might be a name and the email address, and that was it. Just for your understanding of that, none of that had anything to do with any referendum client.
I want to go back to what your business model is, because if all you're doing is taking email addresses, putting it on Facebook and targeting ads, you're basically taking a million dollars and you're being paid just to put ads on Facebook, which is something any intern could probably do.
Now, today, it's been proven and the U.K. says that there were no ads placed for BeLeave. I heard you say earlier, and correct me if I'm wrong, that you instructed Facebook to return the money.
That was going back to a previous point in time where we were with SCL during the U.S. mid-terms. SCL had provided an advertising budget for their clients. The ad budget wasn't able to be spent during the campaign period, and SCL had requested that we send the money back.
So what we had asked was that Facebook, since we sent the money back to SCL—
We're specifically talking about BeLeave. According to the Electoral Commission in the U.K., BeLeave never actually placed ads, and yet you're saying you used that million dollars to place ads for BeLeave. That's not what you were talking about when you said that you asked Facebook to return the money. You're still saying that you placed ads.
Mr. Zackary Massingham: That's not what I'm talking about.
Ms. Anita Vandenbeld: Okay. We have another contradiction there with other evidence, which seems to be a pattern here.
The report I have seen from Facebook says that BeLeave and BeLeave's ad account did place ads, which is why I'm very confused as to how these other regulatory bodies can interpret that in any other way.
You said that you have no evidence of coordination between Vote Leave and BeLeave. Yet there are significant amounts of evidence that we have access to here in the committee that shows, in fact, that you did. You had meetings. You were in strategy sessions. There was the Slack channel and Google Drive. When you were answering the question from my colleague, you said you had no idea about evidence.
I'm going to ask you very simply. Are you aware of any money or any data that moved between Vote Leave and BeLeave?
When you receive a contract from a client, whether you're working directly or indirectly with a client, who would analyze that contract?
Tell me if I'm wrong. You would be requested to do some work. It would probably involve engineering or computer programming, or whatever, so that would go to Mr. Silvester. He would analyze it and tell you, “Look, Zack, I think we can do this work.” You would get the scope of work involved, and you would respond. You would respond with, “Yes, we can do it. This is our price.”
On the logistics side, it would be looking at tools, what things ought to cost, what the comparables are, doing the market research, understanding the needs of the particular clients, and then the needs of the particular users, to promote using the product or the service thereafter, and—
When you're asked to do some work and you have the scope of work, do you analyze what the value of that work is, or what the purpose of that work is, and how that work would be used, or is it simply that whatever a client asks you to do, you just fulfill that request, and here is your price?
I asked you earlier in my questioning if you were aware of work being done in Ukraine. Now, Mr. Silvester has said that you have done work in Trinidad, and you have done work in Nigeria. When you get a contract to do work, whether directly or indirectly, do you analyze the contract to see where that work is going to happen, or is that something you don't think about?
Mr. Massingham, I want to congratulate you since your company does offer its services internationally. Canada is a small country, but you have still developed a tool that enables your company to offer services to a larger country, Great Britain, and perhaps elsewhere as well. You can tell us that.
Your business is a model of success in terms of marketing. Surely there are companies in Great Britain that could have offered the same services as yours. How were you able to break into the market in Great Britain and offer your services there?
You must have stood out in order to win those contracts. So you must have offered something extra to your clients, some added value.
I think we have been extraordinarily lucky in terms of the opportunities we've had. We've worked with some really great people who have gone from campaign to campaign. It's really through word of mouth that we get our introductions. The campaigning community is a very small community, as you all know. We have put together a very good team that delivers very good work and results for our clients.
Aside from word of mouth, we don't really do any other advertising. Particularly in the U.K., I would point out that we don't have any clients in the U.K. right now.
It's simply the hard work. The reason I said no was that I could not think of an individual we had worked with in Canada. Had you asked about someone we had worked with in America, I would have said yes, because the number of people and the scope of what we have helped with there are much different from what we have worked on here in Canada.
Are U.S. software tools more advanced than those elsewhere in the world?
Did you have access to or did you develop certain tools with the Americans, which the Canadian market would not have allowed you to do since there is less money available for development and for contracts?
Yes, and just to extend that a bit further, it's simply a matter of scale. You're exposed to a much larger audience in America, and you're able to see things and work on things much faster than what campaign practices might be here in Canada, in the U.K. or elsewhere around the world. Certainly in America, there's much more opportunity to expose that scale, which allows us to work with other people who can see how we work and how we help them, and it's those people who oftentimes introduce us to other campaigns.
Are the tools that your company developed replicas of tools available in the United States, or did you have contracts that enabled you to develop certain tools that are more advanced than what was already available in the United States?
As solution providers to campaigns, we look at all sorts of tools. If what we offer perhaps isn't the best, we will certainly help our clients use something else, because it's about them winning and being able to use the tool, the strategy, the canvassing application with their volunteers and with their staff in the best way possible so that they are able to reach as many people as possible.
Thanks for clarifying the corporate structure and the role of Chris Shannon, who you say is your third partner. You say Matt Watson is not part of the corporate structure of AggregateIQ. Is that correct?
I'm interested. In July 2017, you responded to a journalist's request for information about the contract between Vote Leave and your company, AggregateIQ. You requested an exemption because you had “bespoke terms” with Vote Leave and you were worried that it might differ from other clients and impact commercial arrangements with other clients. What were the bespoke terms with Vote Leave?
In July 2017, there was a journalist's request for the contract. Under the British freedom of information laws, you were looking to get an exemption because you were afraid that the contract would undermine your competitive bidding, because where the pricing reflects bespoke terms, it may differ from those offered to other clients and could impact commercial arrangements with other clients. Did you have those bespoke terms with Vote Leave?
Well, he gave you speedy help. You were looking for help. It was about a journalist's freedom of information request regarding that contract. What speedy help did Dominic Cummings give you? Did he give you the language on the bespoke terms response?
The question here is that we have two independent reports that have found a breach of a British electoral law, a serious breach that undermined the Brexit vote, which is causing ongoing economic and social upheaval in the United Kingdom. We see there was coordination between those two campaigns. That's been proven. We have the Slack channel between BeLeave and Vote Leave. We have the Google Drive between the two campaigns. You're involved in both of those. We have a transfer of money between the two campaigns. You're involved in that. There were meetings between the two campaigns that you were involved in. Mark Gettleson, one of the key Vote Leave people, is the guy who brought you in to BeLeave.
Yet you say you don't know how there could be any coordination that broke the law. This has put your company in a legally vulnerable position.
For all that money, don't you think you should have done some due diligence?
That was the end of his involvement. Even if we concede that one, all the others they found, point after point, the two.... Where the illegal coordination was done, it keeps coming back to AggregateIQ. You're saying that you had no knowledge of that.
Christopher Wylie said that AggregateIQ “inherited...a company culture of total disregard for the law.” We had Jeff Silvester being quoted through Chris Wylie that there was no signing, that what you did was known to be illegal, and yet you're telling us that you are either the most naive people who ever walked the planet, who walked out with all that money in the midst of an illegal campaign, or you're not telling us the truth.
Just to end this, you're protected here, Mr. Massingham. Whatever you tell us cannot be used in court against you.
You put your shareholders and your company in a legally vulnerable position. If you had to do it all over again.... What are you going to tell us?
Let's forget about third parties' comments and impressions, and focus on what you do best, software development. You explained to us that the product you worked on is comparable to a CRM-type product. There are a number of those products on the market. Are those actual available products like a SAP type of tool, where you tailor all the functionalities to the requirements of the client, or are these CRM-type products on the market too restricted and therefore unable to meet the requirements of your client, justifying the fact that you had to develop your own software?
What we've seen, from working with organizations, is that the scope of work sometimes changes quite quickly based on new tools they want to use, and having a more open system that's able to integrate with other products, tools or services actually has its advantages.
What are the biggest changes you can give me as examples? At the end of the day, in marketing you need to know possibly—without any specific importance or priority—names, addresses, where you live, the books you read and stuff like that. Are there significant elements that cannot be provided by actual available tools on the market?
We have done that in the past. Certainly we did that in Trinidad and Tobago. We used a product for them based on CiviCRM, which is an open-source piece of software.
We have also suggested that clients use NationBuilder because it's a fantastic piece of software that volunteers can use quite readily. The reporting of NationBuilder leaves a lot to be desired, which is why some clients want other outside reporting functionality.
Then there are still some campaigns that operate with paper. You see the gamut based on the volunteers and the staff that are available. Where we come in is in helping those campaigns and their staff make solid technology decisions to help match the tools with their engagement strategies and available resources.
Was your involvement to fine-tune something already available on the market, or did you start from scratch, based on known codes, to develop your own software that can be similar to what exists, with your own touch?
How do you define the personal touch you have? Who decides what kind of personal touch you add to the software when you build such a software? You don't go by the flavour of the month. You need to add what is in fact required by the client or at least make sure that what you add to the software or what you develop yourself will meet exactly the purpose or the requirement of your client.
The tools we have produced and licensed have been, again, as I've said, rather generic. The implementation of that, how they work with particular clients, is what adds the value to that. The overall solution is what adds value. To have a clause in a contract for a generic tool, such as a hammer, I can't say that one exists in our documents.
We didn't provide them with any tools. We provided advertising services to Vote Leave, and we helped them with some small development work on their own tool, which they had been developing long before we got there.
Yes, I think there's learning on both sides there. It goes from what they think they want, and then when the rubber hits the road, the reality of it is that users still have to be able to use it. The volunteers still need to be able to enter their pledges and such.
Mr. Massingham, I'd like to come back to the report of the U.K. parliamentary investigation and the piece of information that sort of widens our discussion here. The committee report says:
[W]e have also found evidence that AIQ used tools that could scrape user profile data from LinkedIn. The App acts similarly to online human behaviour, searching LinkedIn user profiles, scraping their contacts, and all accompanying information such as users' place of work, location and job title.
Well, the British parliamentary committee says that they have evidence—and I guess we may hear more about this as their investigation continues and they get to their final report sometime this fall—“that AIQ used tools that could scrape user profile data from LinkedIn.” Then it goes on to say that the app acted “similarly to online human behaviour, searching LinkedIn user profiles” and scraping their contacts, places of work, and other identities.
I don't believe so, but Jeff would probably be the best person to speak to about what is in our AIQ repository.
I know that within our AIQ repository there were a number of items that were either in progress or open source tools that were developed, which we were looking at to experiment with, or things of that nature. I couldn't speak to the particular functionality of what it is that you're—
Yes. I'm just trying to answer the question as best as I can.
In the instances that they might have transferred supporter information, it would have come in potentially in an Excel sheet, but that would only be for a very small number of people.
When they asked us to help with the development of their database tool, I think the transfer was done through some other mechanism. I'm not sure there was even a transfer. It might have just been allowing my guys access to servers. But I think Jeff would be able to speak to that.
Mr. Massingham, you were talking to Mr. Angus. You said that you did in fact do advertising for Vote Leave and that the million dollars was spent.
What I'd like you to do is provide us with exact details of how much money was spent by you. How much money came to you from Vote Leave? How much did you spend on advertising, and how much was your profit? Do you have that information?
I'd also like to know, for your fiscal years 2015 and 2016, what your overall income was and what your overall profitability was, and linked back as a percentage of this money that you made for Vote Leave and BeLeave as well.
I have one last question. In one of your conversations with BeLeave, in one of your chat rooms, you talked about “hard stuff” and “soft stuff”, relating to types of ads. What did you mean by “hard stuff”?
I believe where that chat is being referenced was in and around a rather tragic accident or situation in the U.K. The advice at the time was to simply continue with the messaging style they had and not be too aggressive.
Okay, I have one last question for you. We'll review the information that you submit to us. I'm going to give you a deadline of Monday at 5 o'clock, Pacific Standard Time, to provide what you've said you're going to provide to us as a committee.
Is that sufficient time to get all of that together?