Cambridge Analytica Row: Indian Political Parties under Radar along with Facebook

Published on 22 Mar 2018 by Shivi

Cambridge Analytica

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On March 21, the offshoot of British company SCL Group, Cambridge Analytica, which deals in data mining and data analysis for electoral procedures hit the headlines over the alleged harvesting and use of personal data. Social media website Facebook has come under the scanner as it was revealed that personal profiles of more than 50 million users were mined for data.

In a sting operation on senior executives at Cambridge Analytica, including its CEO Alexander Nix, were caught on camera suggesting that the company could use sex workers, bribes and misinformation in order to try and help political candidates to win votes in their countries.

Academic Aleksandr Kogan and his company Global Science Research created an app called "thisisyourdigitallife" in 2014 in which the users were paid to take a psychological test. The app then collected the data of the user as well as the user’s Facebook friends.

A whistleblower of the company exposed that Kogan shared this data with Cambridge Analytica which built a software that could influence a person’s choice in elections.

After extreme backlash from the public as well as the media, with #DeleteFacebook trending on Twitter, Facebook creator Mark Zuckerberg gave an interview and apologised for the entire scandal. Facebook shares are reported to have plunged down by 6% on Tuesday.

In India, as soon as this news broke out, Union Minister Ravi Shankar Prasad accused the Congress party of using the services of Cambridge Analytica(CA). However, on its website, the Indian arm of Cambridge Analytica revealed that it worked for BJP, Congress and JD(U).

The company’s India partner Ovleno Business Intelligence (OBI) stated on its website that it had worked with the JD(U) in 2010 and helped it win, an election in which BJP was in alliance with JD(U).

With the issue affecting the Indian political scene,  the government warned Facebook, which is already under probe by the US and British lawmakers over a potential breach of user confidentiality. The government took down the website of OBI and warned Facebook of stringent action if any attempt was made to influence the country's electoral process through undesirable means.

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