Having received the responses from Facebook and data mining firm Cambridge Analytica over breach of user data from the social media platform, the Ministry of Electronics and Information Technology is currently “examining” the representations made by the companies to its notice issued last month. The notice sent by the government to the two companies sought information about the India impact of the said data leak that affected 87 million users worldwide. In its response to the government earlier this month, Facebook said a total of 5,62,455 people were potentially affected in India. The social media company has over 20 crore users in India.
A senior IT ministry official involved with the exercise of government taking a stand on the Facebook issue said that the data breach incident was global and the nature of irregularities involved were “by and large similar”. “The responses are being examined in the context of global developments,” the official said.
In its reply to the government’s notice, Facebook had informed that it investigated an app called “mydigitallife” and based on the probe it found that 335 Indians installed the app but as an effect of these 335 people using the app, an additional 5,62,120 people were affected as friends of the people who installed the app. Cambridge Analytica, on the other hand, has responded saying it had not used the personal information of Indian users from Facebook.
The Ministry of Electronics & Information Technology issued separate notices to Facebook and Cambridge Analytica late last month seeking details about impact of the data breach in India and whether the data was used to manipulate the Indian electoral process. On Monday, Facebook said it will partner with an independent digital journalism initiative certified through the International Fact-Checking Network to introduce a third-party fact-checking programme in India to keep “false news” in check on its platform, starting with a pilot in Karnataka.