The¬† ongoing controversy of data breach by the data analytics firm Cambridge Analytica (CA), a¬† subsidiary of the U.K based SCL group has¬†deliberately shocked the world with the most popular social networking application Facebook being involved in the same.
WHAT IS THE CONTROVERSY ?
CA is a data analytics and political consulting firm, launched by Steve Bannon, former chief strategist to U.S President Donald Trump who helped secure funding for CA from American Billionaire Robert Mercer, major donor to right-wing causes and Republican Party campaigns. An ex-employee of CA, Chris Wylie revealed details of its acquiring of data in 2014 via a personality profiling app, which basically was a form of information campaign on the social media platform, Facebook. Mr. Wylie claims that CA was able to access the data of about 50 million users without their consent.
It has also come to surface that CA used dubious election strategies , for example using women and offering deals to politicians , and video recording these interactions and posting them online to discredit a candidate.
FACEBOOK’S STAND :
While condemning the entire cycle of events, Mark Zuckerberg, the CEO of Facebook said,¬†‚ÄúWe have a responsibility to protect your data, and if we can‚Äôt then we don‚Äôt deserve to serve you”. He noted that the company has already changed some of the rules that enabled the breach, but added: ‚ÄúWe also made mistakes, there‚Äôs more to do, and we need to step up and do it.‚Äù
REPERCUSSIONS IN THE INDIAN CONTEXT :
Days after it was revealed that there has been major discrepancy with data by CA, which claims to have worked with the BJP, the Congress and the JD(U) , the ruling and the opposition parties have been trading charges of each other having used the firm’s services.
Meanwhile, Union Law and Information Technology Minister¬†, Ravi¬†Shankar Prasad has issued a warning to Facebook saying, “Mr¬†Mark Zuckerberg you better note the observation of the IT Minister of India. We welcome the FB profile in India, but if any data theft of Indians is done through the collusion of FB system, it shall not be tolerated. We have got stringent power in the IT Act, we shall use it, including summoning you in India”.
While Cambridge Analytica is already being investigated by the U.K’s Electoral Commission for its role in the Brexit Referandum, and the Russian links to the Trump campaign¬† by the U.S Special Counsel Robert Muller , there is an urgent need for data protection laws in our country. Pavan Duggal, Cyber law expert and advocate says, “It is time India revisits its liability stand on intermediaries”.¬†¬†
This entire incident of data-infringement should act as a wake up call and the government must posit stringent measures to protect user’s data and prevent indefinite threats to one’s own privacy. With every passing day, enormous amounts of data are being flooded into the internet and violations of this kind are hugely unaffordable.