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Sinn Féin demand investigation into DUP's links to data analytics company

Facebook's share price has plummeted amid data harvesting claims. Picture by Dominic Lipinski, Press Association

Sinn Féin MP Francie Molloy has asked for an investigation into the DUP's links with a Canadian data anaytics company at the centre of a global data harvesting scandal.

Data firm Cambridge Analytica was suspended from Facebook last week after it was claimed details about millions of users had not been destroyed as agreed.

Whistleblower Chris Wylie, a former research director at the UK-based company, told Channel 4 News that a 'data grab' had been carried out on more than 50 million profiles in 2014.

Reports in The Observer suggested that the information was used to target political advertising in the 2016 US presidential election.

During the 2016 EU referendum, the DUP - who campaigned for a Leave vote - spent £32,750 of a £425,000 donation from the pro-union Constitutional Research Council on services from AggregateIQ, which is linked to Cambridge Analytica.

A DUP spokesman said last night the party had no comment to make about the Cambridge Analytica allegations.

In a letter to the Information Commissioner's Office (ICO), Sinn Fein MP Francie Molloy said: "...the DUP have a duty to tell us what  they were buying with their money? How many voters’ details were used without their knowledge for the DUP’s Brexit campaign?"

Prime Minister Theresa May's official spokesman called on Facebook and Cambridge Analytica to co-operate fully with an investigation by Information Commissioner Elizabeth Denham.

Asked about the reports, Mrs May's spokesman said: "The allegations are clearly very concerning.

"It is essential that people can have confidence that their personal data will be protected and used in an appropriate way.

"It is absolutely right that the Information Commissioner is investigating this matter.

"We expect Facebook, Cambridge Analytica and all the organisations involved to co-operate fully."

Meanwhile, the DUP today called on Sinn Fein to reveal how money set to be raised in Canada this month will be used to influence politics in Northern Ireland.

Over the weekend a concert in Toronto by the Wolfe Tones was held costing $45 a ticket whilst the former Sinn Fein Lord Mayor of Belfast Niall O’Donnaighle is set to address an Easter Rising Commemoration on 31st March priced at $60 a ticket.

The DUP claim that before expenses, the two events could make Sinn Féin over $19,000.

East Belfast MP Gavin Robinson said: “Those who have been so exercised about political donations here have done nothing to close the loophole which allows huge amounts of foreign money to influence politics in Northern Ireland in a way that is banned in both the Republic of Ireland and the rest of the UK."

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