Data breach: CBI writes to Cambridge Analytica, FB, GSR

Data breach: CBI writes to Cambridge Analytica, FB, GSR

Laptops sit on a table in the empty offices of Cambridge Analytica in Washington. Reuters file photo

After launching a preliminary enquiry in early August, the CBI has approached Facebook, Cambridge Analytica and Global Science Research (GSR) seeking details from them in connection with the illegal personal data harvesting of Indians from the social networking platforms.

The premier investigating agency had taken over the probe following a reference from the Centre following allegations that Cambridge Analytica received data from GSR, which is accused of using "illegal means" for harvesting personal data of Indians using Facebook.

CBI sources said the investigators have asked the three companies to explain their data collection exercise and the procedures adopted to ensure data privacy.

The letter went to these companies as part of CBI's preliminary inquiry, which is the first step to decide whether there is any substance in the allegations and whether there is any need for filing a regular FIR.

Cambridge Analytica was in the eye of a storm earlier as it faced allegations that it used personal information harvested from 87 million Facebook accounts to help Donald Trump win the 2016 US presidential election.

The CBI probe came as Union Law and IT Minister Ravi Shankar Prasad informed Rajya Sabha that the probe will be handed over to the premier investigating agency. Prasad said Cambridge Analytica did not respond to government notices beyond saying that data of Indians were not breached.

Following this, the Ministry of Electronics and Information Technology (MEITY) under Prasad wrote to the CBI demanding a probe against the company.

The allegations had led to the war of words between the ruling BJP and Opposition Congress with each pointing fingers at others.

The BJP accused the Congress of having links with Cambridge Analytica and suggested that the company was managing Rahul Gandhi's social media profiles.

The Congress, on the other hand, accused the BJP of using the services of Cambridge Analytica in the 2010 Bihar polls and Delhi polls in 2013.

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