The Centre has refused to share copies of responses Facebook gave in connection with a data breach scandal the social media company got embroiled in nearly four months ago, PTI reported. The company had asked for the responses to be treated as confidential, the government said in reply to a Right to Information query by a PTI reporter.
The scandal involved the misuse of data of an estimated 87 million Facebook users by British data analytics company Cambridge Analytica.
“[Facebook and Cambridge Analytica] have requested to treat the information contained in their letter as confidential and has furnished [it] only for use of authority,” the Ministry of Electronics and Information Technology said. The RTI query had sought copies of responses received from Facebook and Cambridge Analytica to notices sent by the ministry.
In April, Facebook had said that the data of more than five lakh Indian users had been compromised in the scandal. The breach occurred after 335 Indian Facebook users downloaded an app owned by a company, which later sold the information to Cambridge Analytica.
The Centre sent notices to Facebook and Cambridge Analytica twice in March and April – the second one was sent as the responses to the first one were “cryptic”, the government said. The government had asked the two firms to respond by May 10.
In response to a question asking for details of action taken to prevent misuse of data in elections, the ministry said it had set up an expert committee to draft a data protection framework for India. “This is an ongoing effort,” the RTI response said, adding that the committee’s report is expected soon.
Lawmakers of various countries have asked Facebook Chief Executive Officer Mark Zuckerberg to appear before them to explain the data breach.