Data breach: Govt to decide on action after Facebook, Analytica respond, says Prasad

"We are very tough when it comes to data protection in India. Notice has gone from the Indian government to the two companies. We should wait for their reply. We will take action after their reply," the IT minister said.

By: PTI | New Delhi | Updated: March 29, 2018 3:19:40 pm
IT Minister Ravi Shankar Prasad. (File) IT Minister Ravi Shankar Prasad. (File)

The government has shot-off notices to Facebook and Cambridge Analytica on the data breach issue and will decide on action to be taken after receiving their responses, IT Minister Ravi Shankar Prasad said on Thursday.

“We are very tough when it comes to data protection in India. Notice has gone from the Indian government to the two companies. We should wait for their reply. We will take action after their reply,” Prasad told reporters.

Following up on its earlier warning, the IT Ministry yesterday issued a notice to social networking giant Facebook seeking its response over the user data breach and details of the measures it has put in place to ensure safety and prevent misuse of personal data.

The ministry raised five questions for Facebook, including whether the personal data of Indian voters and users has been compromised by Cambridge Analytica or any other downstream entity in any manner, and gave the networking giant a deadline of April 7 to send detailed response.

It questioned whether the company or its related or downstream agencies utilising the data on the social media platform have previously been engaged by any entity “to manipulate the Indian electoral process”.

The letter sent to Facebook noted that it has largest footprint in India in terms of user base and sought its reply on proactive measures being taken by the company to ensure safety, security and privacy of such large user data and to prevent its misuse by any third party.

A similar notice was earlier sent to Cambridge Analytica over media reports about questionable practices attributed to the UK-based firm in their efforts to influence elections by harvesting data of Facebook users.

Prasad further said that a UK parliamentary committee is conducting an investigation and added that he did not wish to comment on the views of one of its members.

“I will not comment on that. A parliamentary committee of Britain is doing an investigation, and one of the members in that has commented, so I should not make any comments on that. If that committee sends any report, then we can think on it,” Prasad added.

The past few days have seen a global outrage over the breach of user data on Facebook, forcing the company to issue an apology. Data mining firm Cambridge Analytica has been accused of harvesting personal information of over 50 million Facebook users illegally to influence polls in several countries.

Facebook’s data breach scandal sparked a furore in India with Prasad last week warning the firm of “stringent” action for any attempt to influence polls through data theft and threatening to summon Facebook CEO Mark Zuckerberg, if needed.

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