Monday, 17 December 2018

FB data misuse: Whistleblower Reveals Cambridge Analytica Worked Extensively in India

Congress and BJP lock horns on “breach of privacy”

New Delhi. While Mark Zuckerberg and Facebook remain in the international eye of storm over the issue of leaked data of millions of users of the social networking site, in India the scandal has taken a nasty turn with the Congress making much of data leaked from the Prime Minister’s NaMo app which has over 50 lakh users and the BJP in turn flaying the Congress for doing the same with their app, which boasts of only about 15000 users.

Cambridge Analytica whistleblower Christopher Wylie at a news conference in central London, Britain, March 26, 2018. REUTERS/Toby Melville

Meanwhile the whistleblower, Christopher Wylie has said “I believe Cambridge Analytica (CA) client was Congress but I know that they have done all kinds of project. I don’t remember a national project but I know regionally. India’s so big that one state can be as big as Britain. But they do have offices there, they do have staff,” Wylie said while speaking at the UK Parliament.

Soon after the deposition got over, Union Minister for Law and Information Technology Minister Ravi Shankar Prasad, demanded an apology from the Congress and its president Rahul Gandhi.

“The whistleblower confirmed that Congress party was their client. The Congress had publicly denied that relation with Cambridge Analytica. Congress has to apologise to the nation. Rahul Gandhi will have to apologise. They have been exposed. This shows they don’t trust people,” he said. Congress spokesperson Randeep Surjewala addressed the media right after Prasad’s allegations and said, “Ravi Shankar Prasad is a liar. He is in power, so why doesn’t he show all the proof and register an FIR. We challenge you. They fear they will be exposed if a probe is started.”

The UK-based data analytics firm has been in the eye of a global scandal surrounding Facebook and an application on the social media platform that harvested data of over 50 million users only to use it to influence voters in elections. Cambridge Analytica has been extensively used in the run up to the US elections by now elect President Donald Trump.

Twenty-eight-year-old Wylie was deposing before the UK Parliament on Tuesday when he reiterated the allegations against CA. The whistleblower who kicked up a massive storm across the world over ‘data theft’ carried out by his former employers Cambridge Analytica revealed that the company had large-scale operations in India and even had an office here.

The scandal that has unfurled across the world over the past one week has seen both BJP and Congress leveling serious allegations of ‘data theft’ and voter influencing against each other by employing CA’s services.

Cambridge Analytica’s India-affiliate Ovleno Business Intelligence (OBI) carried the names and logos of BJP, Congress and JD(U) in its client list, while the company’s vice-president, Himanshu Sharma, boasted of having successfully delivered 272+ seats for BJP in the 2014 Lok-Sabha elections.

The company has been accused of illegally sourcing data of over 50 million Face book users and then using it to influence them in several elections, including the 2016 US Presidential elections, Brexit referendum and the 2014 Lok Sabha elections closer home.

OBI also stated in its website (that has now been suspended) that it had worked with JD(U) in the 2010 Bihar Assembly elections, which the party had won in a partnership with BJP.

Last week, BJP 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 Face book, the IT Ministry in a statement said that “breach of privacy cannot be tolerated”.

Whistleblower Wylie on Tuesday observed that the company’s approach was more like a “modern day colonizer” that worked and influenced elections in several countries, including India.

Meanwhile, in another startling revelation, Wylie told the UK lawmakers that his predecessor, who was working on the Kenyan elections, may have been poisoned. The concerned person who had earlier worked on elections in Europe, Africa and the US died during the Kenyan election campaign.

Dr. Shirin Abbas is the Bureau Chief "TheIndiaObserver.Com". She is a world-renowned journalist, winner of several national and international awards for her contribution to Media Research.The first recipient of the prestigious British Chevening Scholarship for Print Journalism in 1999 from her state of Uttar Pradesh. Under the same, she studied at the School of Media, Communication, and Design at the University Of Westminster, London and interned with The Irish Times, Dublin. She has been a journalist for over three decades, working at several national English dailies in North India. She completed her PhD. in Mass Communication in 2016.

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