Canada's privacy rights regulator has opened an investigation into Facebook and marketing firm AggregateIQ following recent data-sharing scandals.
Following allegations that a similar firm, Cambridge Analytica, used underhand tactics to obtain Facebook user profiles, and used this to target potential voters in the 2016 US presidential election, it was alleged that AggregateIQ also obtained Facebook data - a claim it denies.
Nevertheless, officials from Canada's privacy regulator and its equivalent in the state of British Columbia have launched a joint investigation into the claims of ongoing data abuse at marketing data companies.
Speaking this week, the Office of the Privacy Commissioner of Canada said it will explore whether or not these companies violated federal laws and regulations covering privacy rights.
The commission first began investigating Facebook in March shortly after news broke that the firm had allowed London-based political consultancy Cambridge Analytica to gain access to 50 million users.
Now, it has emerged that the figure is actually closer to 87 million users and the level of personal data compromised - such telephone numbers and email addresses - might be much higher.
Facebook boss Mark Zuckerberg has since apologised, saying: "This was a breach of trust and I'm sorry we didn't do more at the time. I promise to do better for you."
On Wednesday, Facebook Canada confirmed that the personal details of more than 600,000 Canadians were "improperly shared" with Camrbidge Analytica.
In an interview with the Toronto Star, Canadian acting democratic institutions minister Scott Brison called the situation with Facebook concerning. "While Facebook has begun to take initial steps to address these issues, it is clear that much more needs to be done," he said.
He continued: "Our government takes very seriously its fundamental responsibility to protect the private information of Canadian citizens, and we are taking a whole-of-government approach to this issue."
Meanwhile, British Columbia's privacy commission will not only investigate the Facebook case with its Canadian counterpart, but it will also look at claims of wrongdoing at data firm AggregateIQ.
The Victoria-based company had been accused by The Guardian newspaper of violating provincial data protection laws during the Brexit campaign in 2016.
However, The Guardian subsequently printed what it describes as a clarification, which withdrew the claim that there was a business relationship of any kind between AggregateIQ and Cambridge Analytica. It also withdrew the suggestion that AggregateIQ "has been involved in the exploitation of Facebook data".
AggregateIQ has also placed the following disclaimer prominently on its home page. It denies that it ever had, or had access to, any Facebook data, as well as the Guardian's claims that it had links with Cambridge Analytica or its predecessor company, SCL:
"AggregateIQ is a digital advertising, web and software development company based in Canada. It is and has always been 100% Canadian owned and operated.
"AggregateIQ has never been and is not a part of Cambridge Analytica or SCL. Aggregate IQ has never entered into a contract with Cambridge Analytica. Chris Wylie has never been employed by AggregateIQ.
"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. All work AggregateIQ does for each client is kept separate from every other client.
"AggregateIQ has never managed, nor did we ever have access to, any Facebook data or database allegedly obtained improperly by Cambridge Analytica."
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