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Sunday, July 22, 2018

Data breach row: Rahul Gandhi says PM Big Boss, Smriti Irani says Chhota Bheem knows better

Taking to Twitter to target the Prime Minister, Rahul said his NaMo app “secretly records audio, video, contacts of your friends & family and even tracks your location via GPS”. “He’s the Big Boss who likes to spy on Indians. Now he wants data on our children."

By: Express News Service | New Delhi | Updated: March 27, 2018 5:30:23 am
rahul gandhi, namo app, namo app data breach, rahul gandhi on namo app, Smriti Irani, Smriti Irani chota bheem tweet, narendra modi app, facebook data breach, facebook cambridge analytica Congress president Rahul Gandhi. (Express file photo by Praveen Jain)

The verbal battle between BJP and Congress over data sharing escalated on Monday, with Congress president Rahul Gandhi terming Prime Minister Narendra Modi “the Big boss who likes to spy on Indians” and Union Minister Smriti Irani saying that even “Chhota Bheem” knows that the “commonly asked permissions on apps” are “not tantamount to snooping”.

The BJP also targeted the Opposition party for deleting the “WithINC app” and said it was done immediately after BJP alleged that Congress is stealing the data of Indians.

Taking to Twitter to target the Prime Minister, Rahul said his NaMo app “secretly records audio, video, contacts of your friends & family and even tracks your location via GPS”. “He’s the Big Boss who likes to spy on Indians. Now he wants data on our children. 13 lakh NCC cadets are being forced to download the APP,” he tweeted with the hashtag “DeleteNaMoApp”.

“Modi misusing PM position to build personal database with data on millions of Indians via the NaMo App promoted by Govt. If as PM he wants to use tech to communicate with India, no problem. But use the official PMO APP for it. This data belongs to India, not Modi,” he added.

Irani hit back, saying that thanks to the NaMo app, Rahul now knows what the NCC is. “RahulGandhi ji, even ‘Chhota Bheem’ knows that commonly asked permission on apps don’t tantamount to snooping,” she tweeted.

Irani also took a swipe at the Congress move to delete its own application. “Ye kya RahulGandhi ji it seems your team is doing the opposite of what you asked for. Instead of #DeleteNaMoApp, they have deleted the Congress App itself,” she said.

“Now that we’re talking tech, would you care to answer @RahulGandhi ji why Congress sends data to Singapore Servers which can be accessed by any Tom, Dick and Analytica?” the I&B Minister added.

Responding to Irani’s tweet, Congress leader Randeep Surjewala tweeted: “Ohh Ms Irani! But Kauravas wouldn’t remember that Bheem represented the righteous Pandavas! Also, those who persecuted Rohith Vemula & denigrate Babasaheb “Bhimrao’s” legacy everyday can only set this level of discourse!”

Soon came BJP spokesperson Sambit Patra’s response: “But Sir, the Honourable Minister was calling “Chottabhim” as Chottabhim ..She was not equating Rahul Gandhi to Chottabhim …Why do YOU think Rahul=Chottabhim ?”

Earlier, at a press meet, Patra said the NaMo app is a “communication way” and Rahul blaming it “is his technological illiteracy”. He said the Congress deleted its application from the Playstore immediately after the BJP alleged that it was stealing the data of Indians.

Congress leader Abhishek Singhvi, meanwhile, told reporters, “This is an attempt like ‘Bigg Boss’ of spying on Indians. Modiji is attacking the privacy. It is a data leak government.”

Reacting to a report in The Indian Express Monday, Singhvi said when there is an official government app that seeks information on 15 points, what is the need for having a personal ‘Namo app’ which seeks data on 22 indicators.

On Monday morning, a French researcher, who uses the name Elliot Alderson and tweets from @fs0c131y handle, pointed out that when someone applies for membership through the official app of Congress, My INC, the data gets stored in a Singapore-based server. Pointing to weak encryption of the data, Alderson said that the data could be decoded very easily. The My INC app was removed from Google PlayStore around the same time that Alderson pointed out the issues.

Alderson, who told The Indian Express that his actual name is Robert Baptiste had, on Saturday morning, also pointed out that PM’s Narendra Modi app had been sharing some personal user information with a third party named Clever Tap. On Sunday, BJP changed the app’s privacy policy to reflect that it was indeed sharing some information with a third party for analytics.

BJP’s IT cell in-charge Amit Malviya said the INC membership website is no longer available. “What is the Congress party trying to hide?” he tweeted.

The Congress said the site was “dysfunctional” and all memberships were registered through the party’s official website

Congress social media in-charge Divya Spandana Ramya said, “Nothing is compromised…We haven’t taken down anything,” she said. “We don’t collect any personal data through the INC app. We discontinued it a long time ago. It was being used only for social media updates. We collect data for membership and this is through our website, this is encrypted,” she said.

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