New Delhi, April 7: Replying to a Government notice, Cambridge Analytica (CA) has said that the data analytics firm did not use any data on Indians mined illegally from Facebook. The Government had sought a reply from CA following the data breach scandal that shook the world. India had sought a reply from the firm by March 31 but the latter sought more time. “(Cambridge Analytica) said it has done surveys in India and followed proper guidelines and procedures for that and that it doesn’t have data of Indians (illegally obtained through Facebook),” a senior government official is quoted as saying by The Economic Times.
The UK firm’s claim is in direct contradiction of the response from Facebook that the government received on Thursday. Facebook, replying to a similar query from the government, had said that 562,455 people in India were affected by the unauthorised sharing of data that Aleksandr Kogan mined. Kogan had developed an app, ‘thisismydigitallife’, that mined data from Facebook. Interestingly, as per Facebook, only 335 users downloaded Kogan’s app in India. The remaining over 500,000 people could be affected just by the virtue of being friends or relatives of those who downloaded it. Kogan has since denied playing any role and said he was just being made a scapegoat.
Meanwhile, the Indian government official said, “We have to now wait for Facebook to start notifying the users who could have been impacted by the breach. If any of the users come forward and file complaints about any harm or damage done, we can take action under the IT Act.” The data breach scandal hit the Indian shores when media reported that CA, along with its Indian affiliate Ovleno Business Intelligence, was roped in by political parties to profile prospective voters and influence the outcome of elections. This led to a furore with the two main political parties, the BJP and the Congress, trading charges. The company had listed its work during Bihar elections as a case study on its website. The Indian arm of CA also allegedly had links with a senior JD(U) leader’s son who has vehemently denied the charge.
India is the largest user base for Facebook and the social media network has been trying to save face and has introduced over half a dozen new safety features. Following the backlash across the globe, Facebook CEO Mark Zuckerberg apologised to FB users.