Facebook summoned by government over misuse of user data

Facebook is under the radar of all major governments over data misuse by third-party apps.

  • Published: March 29, 2018 12:19 PM IST

Indian government has asked social media giant Facebook to provide details regarding possible data breach by April 7. The government wants the company to clarify whether Facebook or any of its partners with access to user data had engaged in the manipulation of elections.

In a statement issued by the ministry of electronics and IT, the government is asking 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?” The government letter comes on the wake of new revelations that a big data firm named Cambridge Analytica successfully harvested data of 50 million users without consent. This has led to a huge outcry against Facebook and its inability to keep tight control over user data.

The government also wants to know whether the personal data of Indian voters were “compromised by Cambridge Analytica” or any other entity. The social media giant has been asked to submit its response by April 7.

Christopher Wylie, the Canadian whistleblower and former Director of Research at Cambridge Analytica, revealed that the firm gained access to data of millions of users and used the collected data to create a psychrograph with the intent to influence the outcomes of the Brexit poll, and the US presidential election. In a testimony in the UK Parliament, Wylie told the firm had retained the Indian National Congress (INC) as client in India.

While Congress has denied his allegation, the firm has been found to have worked for both the Congress as well as the BJP in India. The government has also issued a notice to Cambridge Analytica seeking details of alleged data breach and attempts to influence elections.

India is not the only country summoning Facebook in the backdrop of Cambridge Analytica data scandal. Facebook is under pressure from US government since it admitted that Russia’s Internet Research Agency used the platform to spread misinformation. Now both US and the UK have asked Facebook CEO Mark Zuckerberg to testify in person regarding the data breach.

In an interview with CNN, Zuckerberg apologized and said that the platform is open to regulation by the government. He also said that trusting third-party developers with user data was a ill-cited decision, and the company will do everything in its power to ensure user data does not fall in the hands of wrong people. Facebook’s share price has dropped more than 15 percent in the last two weeks alone and it seems have a bleak future if US senators impose a strict regulations on the platform.

  • Published Date: March 29, 2018 12:19 PM IST