India Sends Notice to UK-Based Cambridge Analytica, Gives it 7 Days to Name Clients and Data Source

9 months ago admin Comments Off on India Sends Notice to UK-Based Cambridge Analytica, Gives it 7 Days to Name Clients and Data Source
New Delhi: India on Friday sent a notice to UK-based Cambridge Analytica asking whether it has misused data to profile Indians and influence elections.

The data-mining firm faces accusation of lifting the Facebook profiles of more than 50 million users without their permission in order to manipulate elections. Authorities in both the United States and Britain are investigating both Facebook and Cambridge Analytica.

The IT Ministry has asked Cambridge Analytica to respond by March 31 on six questions, including how the company had collected user data, whether consent was taken from the individuals, and how the data was used.

India has also demanded the name of the entities that engaged Cambridge Analytica and the method used by it for possession of data and whether consent was taken from users.

The move assumes significance as the BJP, earlier this week, had questioned links between the Congress and Cambridge Analytica. Taking a stern view of reports on the misuse of user data obtained from social media platform Facebook, the IT Ministry in a statement said that “breach of privacy cannot be tolerated”.

“The government is deeply concerned about such developments and is committed to ensuring the protection of the fundamental right of privacy and safety and security of data for every citizen of India,” the ministry said.

The IT Ministry said it had issued a notice to Cambridge Analytica “wherein the serious breach of propriety and misuse of data intended to profile and influence voting behaviour has been highlighted”.

The notice comes just days after Law and IT Minister Ravi Shankar Prasad warned the social media giant Facebook of stringent action for any attempt to influence polls through data theft. Prasad had even threatened to summon its CEO Mark Zuckerberg, if needed.

“…the notice addressed to Cambridge Analytica seeks an immediate response to the following questions…Whether they have been engaged in any assignment to utilise data of Indians from the above-cited breach. Who are the entities that have engaged them for the above,” it said.

The ministry also questioned the company on how it had come to be in possession of user data and whether user consent had been taken for the same. The company has also been asked to divulge details of how the data collected was used and whether any profiling was done on basis of such data.

“The intermediaries cited above have been given time till March 31, 2018, to submit their responses on the above issue,” the ministry said.

Referring to media reports of “gross abuse of social media platform to influence the sanctity of polling process”, the ministry said, “any attempt to influence the sanctity of the electoral franchise through dubious and questionable means is unacceptable”.

“In particular, all intermediaries and their associates have the legal obligation to maintain security, confidentiality and sanctity of data and any unauthorized use of data can entail legal action,” it warned.

The statement said that Indian Computer Emergency Response Team (CERT-In) has issued advisory laying down security best practices to be followed by social media users, to safeguard personally identifiable information on social network sites.

(With agency inputs)

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