Now, CM Siddaramaiah's official app vanishes after data privacy breach alarm

Now, CM Siddaramaiah's official app vanishes after data privacy breach alarm

CMO cites poll code for suspension; Mysuru firm accessing info, says techie

Now, CM Siddaramaiah's official app vanishes after data privacy breach alarm

Amid a raging debate on data privacy, the state government on Thursday suspended the Siddaramaiah app - its official citizen-outreach platform - after a software professional raised an alarm that user data was being sent to a private company in Mysuru.

This comes even as the Congress and BJP are sparring over the use of personal data. The BJP has accused Congress of data theft and manipulation of voters through political consulting firm Cambridge Analytica. The Congress has claimed that Prime Minister Narendra Modi's personal app "secretly records audio, video, contacts, even tracks your location via GPS."

According to the chief minister's office (CMO), however, the Siddaramaiah app was suspended from the Google and Apple platforms in view of the election model code of conduct.

Techie Shreeharsha Perla took to Twitter to claim that Siddaramaiah's eponymous app sent his personal details - name, mobile number and date of birth - to a website owned by Mysuru-based Infopine, the company that developed the app for the government. "Can Siddaramaiah explain why data from a government app is sent to a private company and how he ensures safety of data?" he tweeted, along with screenshots to support his claim.

The Siddaramaiah app was downloaded by over 30,000 users since its launch last October. User data from the Siddaramaiah app is not encrypted and sent as 'http' and not 'https,' Perla stated.

According to another Twitter user, citizen data that is not encrypted runs the risk of inviting a 'man-in-the-middle' attack, which refers to a security threat where a malicious actor can gain access to private information between two parties.

The state BJP was quick to pounce on Perla's claim. "Congress talks about data security and data breach, while they cunningly engage with dubious Cambridge Analytica. In Karnataka itself, Siddaramaiah is routing raw user data to personal servers. Double standards to the core," BJP leader R Ashoka tweeted.

Principal secretary to the chief minister, L K Atheeq, told DH that the app's suspension had nothing to do with privacy concerns.

"The app has the chief minister's name and many of the creative content inside had his photographs. The app was taken down because of the code of conduct," he said. The government had signed an agreement with Infopine requiring the company to keep user data confidential, Atheeq stressed. "The data then gets transferred to the government's data centre."