The Union Government on April 25, 2018 served a second set of notices to Facebook and Cambridge Analytica (CA) over the recent data breach. The companies have been given the deadline of May 10 to reply to the additional queries.
The government sought additional responses after finding discrepancies between the earlier responses given by the British data analytics firm and the American social networking giant.
Flagging the earlier reply by Cambridge Analytica as cryptic and evasive, the government’s latest notice to the analytics company read, "...It is self-evident that apart from being very cryptic, the unstated intention was to conceal more than reveal.”
The notice stated that given the submission by Facebook followed by its public apology, the onus now lay with Cambridge Analytica.
By sending the notices, the government wants to send out a strong signal to international bodies operating in IT and data platform that any manipulation of data of Indians, in violation of law and privacy norms, will be viewed seriously.
|Key difference between responses from Facebook & CA|
The social networking giant admitted in its response that nearly 5.62 lakh people in India were ‘potentially affected’ by the data breach incident.
The British Analytics company claimed that it does not have any Facebook data on Indian citizens.
Responses sought by the Indian government from CA
• In its fresh notice to Cambridge Analytica, the government has sought a response on the kind of data that was collected in India and the research instruments used to capture such data.
• The government has sought reply on whether the company had harvested any data through a third-party app and whether or not it was done with user consent.
• It has also asked the analytics company that whether the data collected by the company under the pretention of research was used for any election-related work.
• It has also sought information on entities operating under the umbrella of Cambridge Analytica and details of directors.
• Further, the government has questioned the analytics company on the non-disclosure pacts signed by the company with its associates and clients for Indian assignments and has asked it to share the templates that were used in signing such agreements.
Responses sought by the Indian government from Facebook
• Taking note of Facebook’s candid admission of unauthorised use of its user data by CA, the Indian government has asked the social network to list out security architecture proposed to be created so that the data concerning Indians is not manipulated again for inappropriate purposes including influencing the elections.
• The government has sought reply on the steps planned by Facebook to avert any such unauthorised use of data or manipulation in the future.
• Further, the government asked the social network about the corrective actions that it plans to introduce in the future to ensure the privacy of Indian data as well as to maintain the integrity of the electoral process.
The American social networking giant, Facebook recently faced a lot of backlash from governments across the globe after an unsuspected data leak scandal broke out that involved more than 87 million Facebook users.
The controversy erupted when reports emerged that the British data analysis firm Cambridge Analytica had tried to influence the 2016 US Presidential elections by using unethically gathered Facebook data to manipulate voter behaviour.
The analytics company has been accused of exploiting Facebook to harvest millions of people's profiles without their permission and using the information to create a psychological profile of the users as well as their friends based on their online activities.
The information was then allegedly used for targeted political advertising during UK's Brexit referendum and to assist Donald Trump’s victory in US Presidential Elections 2016.
How did CA acquire the data?
The CA reportedly got the private data from a Cambridge researcher - Alexsandr Kogan, who created an app called 'thisisyourdigitallife' to offer personality predictions online. The app offered users a personality prediction after they agreed to take a personality test.
Around 270,000 people downloaded the app and took the personality quiz, as a result of which the data of some 50 million users, mainly in the US, was harvested without their explicit consent through their friend networks.
The data was only meant to be used by Kogan for developing the app however, he allegedly sold it to the CA.
Who: Union Government