Union Minister for Information Technology Ravi Shankar Prasad said on Sunday that data on social media platforms will never be allowed to influence India’s election processes. He was speaking at the G-20 Digital Economy Ministerial Meeting in Salta, Argentina.
“India has taken a serious note of reported misuse of social media platform data,” Prasad said. “Such platforms will never be allowed to abuse our election process for extraneous reasons. The purity of the democratic process should never be compromised. India will take all required steps to deter and punish those who seek to vitiate this process.”
“India’s digital story is a story of hope and growth; of opportunities and profits,” Prasad said. “But above all, it is a story of digital inclusion and empowerment. Digital India is a mass movement today touching the lives of a billion people.”
The minister said that India believed in internet access for all. However, he added, while cyberspace is truly global, it must be “linked with local ideas, local culture and local views”. Prasad also claimed that India had already put in place stringent measures and laws to protect data and ensure individual privacy.
On August 8, the Central Bureau of Investigation initiated a preliminary inquiry against British data analytics firm Cambridge Analytica and Global Science Research for allegedly harvesting the personal data of lakhs of Indians from Facebook. CBI officials will decide if the allegations in the data breach scandal deserve a full inquiry.
The case involves the misuse of data of an estimated 87 million Facebook users by Cambridge Analytica, which shut down in May. In April, Facebook said that the data of more than five lakh Indian users had been compromised in the scandal.