While Facebook data leak controversy is still in hot waters, the Centre has sent a six-point notice to British political firm Cambridge Analytica seeking answers on whether it is involved in any projects that include the use of private data of Indian citizens in any form.
The Ministry of Electronics and Information Technology has issued a notice against the data mining company which has been previously accused of stealing data of about 50 million Facebook users in order to influence United States Presidential Elections in 2016. In addition, Cambridge Analytica is also defamed for influencing elections results via illegal modes such as bribes, fake news and political contacts in many countries.
The government has asked the company to reveal full details on how it has been using the data; if any consent was taken from the individuals while acquiring the data; who were the engaging parties involved in making it fetch the data and if any profiling was also done after the data was fetched?
The British based Political firm is supposed to give a response to the notice till 31 March regarding the data breach issues. This is the very first time when Indian government has taken such a step especially after the much heated Facebook data breach issue reported earlier in March. Mr. Ravi Prasad, Minister at Electronics and Information Technology has already made it clear that a serious action would be taken against Facebook if in any case Indian data is found to be comprised upon.
This data leak issue has also resulted into a political debate in the country where major political parties, such as the BJP and Congress have put allegations over each other of using the services of Cambridge Analytica to influence election results. While BJP questioned if Congress used tactics based on this data manipulation to sway voters on its side, Congress responded by saying that BJP was trying to divert attention from a more important issue involving the death of 39 Indians in Iraq.
In addition to Cambridge Analytica data breach issue, an Advisory Note has also been issued by Indian Computer Emergency Response Team (CERT-In) that lays down best social media practices and guidelines to be followed by Indian users in order to safeguard their personal information from mishandling and breach while making use of social networking sites.