Union minister Ravi Shankar Prasad on Wednesday alleged that the Congress had links with Cambridge Analytica, a British firm accused of using the private data of more than five crore Facebook users to help United States President Donald Trump’s election campaign in 2016.
The minister of electronics and information technology questioned whether the Congress depended on data manipulation and theft to woo voters. “What is Cambridge Analytica’s role in Rahul Gandhi’s social media profile?” he asked at a press conference. “Abuse of social media through an agency seeking to compromise data security is the issue.”
His allegations came after reports said that the British firm had reached out to the Congress with a social media strategy ahead of the 2019 Lok Sabha elections. Following the media reports, the Congress spokesperson said the Election Commission should conduct an investigation into what services were offered and to whom in India.
‘Will summon Mark Zuckerberg’
Prasad, who is also the law minister, warned Facebook and other social media sites of strong action if it is found that attempts were made to influence the country’s electoral process. He said India has stringent powers under the Information Technology Act to summon Facebook chief Mark Zuckerberg.
“The Bharatiya Janata Party will take it seriously if by collusive methods, data of Indians is exposed,” Prasad said.
Apart from using private data of millions of people, Cambridge Analytica is also accused of using shell companies, sex workers, fake news and bribes to sway election outcomes in several countries, according to a report by Channel4News. These claims were purportedly made by top executives to the channel’s undercover reporters.
The channel also claims to have evidence of the firm’s officials boasting about having worked in election campaigns across the world, including India. However, the report does not clarify which Indian political party was engaged with the firm.