The Ministry of Electronics & Information Technology (MEITy) has sent out a notice to Facebook, seeking whether the personal data of Indian voters and users has been compromised by data mining firm Cambridge Analytica. The Ministry has asked the social media giant to specify whether the data has been used to manipulate the Indian electoral process. Facebook has to respond to the notice by April 7, 2018
The Ministry seeks clarity from Facebook whether “the personal data of Indian voters and users has been compromised by Cambridge Analytica or any other downstream entity in any manner, and if so, how was it compromised?” said a statement issued by the IT Ministry. The letter also asked “whether Facebook or its related or downstream agencies utilising Facebook’s data have previously been engaged by any entities to manipulate the Indian electoral process?”
The Government has sought details from Facebook on if any such downstream entity “misused” data, what is the protection available to the data subject and what are the specific steps proposed to be taken by the social media company to prevent any misuse of personal data for potential interference in, or manipulation of the Indian electoral process?
“Facebook today has its largest footprint in India in terms of its user base and therefore what proactive measures are being taken to ensure the safety, security and privacy of such large user data and to prevent its misuse by any third party ?” said the letter.
Last week, the Ministry had sent a notice to data mining and analysis firm Cambridge Analytica, which is at the center of a controversy over involving data harvested from Facebook users. Cambridge Analytica was given time until March 31 to respond to the letter.
On Tuesday, Cambridge Analytica whistelblower Christopher Wylie in a London court said that Congress might have taken services of the data mining and analysis company during elections.
Facebook’s privacy policies have come under fire after Cambridge Analytica, a political consulting firm that helped Donald Trump elected, was able to harvest data from 50 million Facebook profiles to direct its messaging. Cambridge Analytica got the data from a researcher who paid 270,000 Facebook users to complete a psychological profile quiz back and download an app in 2014. The social media company’s stock value has dropped more than $70 billion since the revelations were made.