Congress President Rahul Gandhi on Sunday alleged that Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s app was leaking data to a third-party US company. In a post on Twitter, Gandhi claimed that the prime minister was allowing ‘American companies’ to take away the data of users who signed up for his application. Rahul Gandhi’s allegations come after the data leak scandal involving Facebook and Cambridge Analytica, and the many reports of Aadhaar data of Indians being at a risk of compromise. Now, Modi app also seems to be in the eye of a storm, and a new flashpoint in the war between the Congress and the Bhartiya Janata Party (BJP).“Hi! My name is Narendra Modi. I am India’s Prime Minister. When you sign up for my official App, I give all your data to my friends in American companies,” Rahul Gandhi tweeted.To this, the BJP countered the charge by saying that Gandhi and his party had zero knowledge of technology. “The Narendra Modi App is a unique app, which unlike most apps, gives access to users in ‘guest mode’ without even any permission or data… The app does not ask for blanket permissions when the app is started,” said a BJP source. Sources said the permissions required are all “contextual and cause-specific”. For example, a selfie campaign requires access to the camera and/or photo gallery.
Contact access is required to connect with friends or fellow party workers on the New India connect module. If a person has entered his email address and date of birth, he receives a personalised birthday greeting from the prime minister. Each function asks for specific permissions when access is required,” a source said.Sources held that the data is being used for analytics using third party service, similar to Google Analytics.Here are the top developments in the latest data breach row allegedly involving the Narendra Modi app:1) Modi the ‘Big Boss’ who wants to spy on citizens: Rahul GandhiRahul Gandhi tweeted: Modi’s NaMo App secretly records audio, video, contacts of your friends and family and even tracks your location via GPS. He’s the Big Boss who likes to spy on Indians. Now he wants data on our children. 13 lakh NCC cadets are being forced to download the app.
3) NaMo app does not seek blanket permissions for users’ data: BJP: The BJP sources said that the data exposed by the French Twitter user is the data “entered by the user on his own device” and hence it was “not a security breach”, emphasizing that the person does not have access to “any data apart from his own data”.They held that the data is being used for analytics using third party service, similar to Google Analytics.”The data in no way is stored or used by the third party services.
Analytics and processing on the user data is done for offering users the most contextual content. This ensures that a user gets the best possible experience by show content in his/her own language.”It also enables a unique, personalized experience according to a person’s interests. For example, a person who looks up content related to agriculture will get agriculture related content prominently. A person from Tamil Nadu will get notifications in Tamil and get an update when the Prime Minister is in Tamil Nadu,” the source said.
4) NaMo app describes itself as the “official app of the Prime Minister of India”: At the Google Play Store, the NaMo app describes itself as the “official app of the Prime Minister of India”. However, the app — or the website ‘narendramodi.in’ — is not owned by or affiliated to the India government, which generally uses the domain ‘nic.in’ or ‘gov.in’.The website is hosted by a US-based company Akamai, headquartered in Massachusetts and the app is owned by Modi in his private capacity, not by the Prime Minister’s office, and he has provided 11, Ashok Road, New Delhi – BJP’s headquarter till a few months back – as the registered address.5) Rahul claims Modi’s app steals data: Rahul took a jibe at PM Modi on Twitter on Sunday, alleging that his Narendra Modi app was leaking data to US companies.
6) BJP counters Rahul’s claim: BJP said that Rahul Gandhi and his party had no knowledge about technology.The domain ‘naremdramodi.in’ was created on February 28, 2005 (around a decade before he became the Prime Minister) and is scheduled to expire on February 28, 2019.However, the app was launched in June 2015. It has had 5 million downloads on the Google Play Store so far. The app compulsorily asks for a user’s name, email ID, phone number, profession and areas of interest when registering on it.7) Union Minister K J Alphons responds: In an apparent response to Rahul Gandhi, Alphons said “I filled up to 10 pages for a US visa form. We have absolutely no problem giving our fingerprints and being naked before the white man at all. When your own government asks for your name and address, there is a massive revolution saying it’s intrusion of privacy.”
French researcher Elliot Alderson has alleged that information of those who have downloaded the app was being provided to third party US company Clever Tap without users’ consent.In a series of tweet, Anderson had claimed that user’s device information, as well as personal data, was sent to a third-party domain called in.wzrkt.com. when a person creates profile in the app.9) Cambridge Analytica behind Rahul Gandhi’s ‘Gabbar Singh Tax’ jibe, claimed BJP:Stepped up its attack on Rahul Gandhi and the Congress, BJP had said that Cambridge Analytica’s “footprints” were visible in the Opposition party’s campaign in Gujarat. Further, the BJP suggested that Cambridge Analytica had a role in the Congress chief’s use of the term “Gabbar Singh Tax”.Union minister Ravi Shankar Prasad also suggested that the firm had a role in Gandhi’s social media campaign and the Congress’ “poisonous” electioneering in Gujarat.100 Take action instead of holding press conferences, Congress tells BJP: Senior Congressleader Abhishek Manu Singhvi adviced the BJP that instead of holding press conferences, the ruling party should take action over its allegation that the Opposition party is indulging in data theft to influence elections in India.Alleging that the BJP has dished out fake news for long, Singhvi said that the spread of false information has been its forte.”BJP is the party in power. Rather than holding press conferences, why doesn’t it take action?” he said about Union Law and Information Technology Minister Ravi Shankar Prasad’s charge that the Opposition party was using data manipulation and theft to woo voters.10. Congress called Ravi Shankar Prasad ‘lie minister’: Equating Ravi Shankar Prasad to Hitler’s Goebbels, Congress spokesperson Randeep Singh Surjewala said that “now a new fake agenda” is being used to stop the proceedings in Parliament. Surjewala added that instead of law minister, Prasad should be called a “lie minister”.”One who stole data (Facebook and Mark Zuckerberg) is also Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s friend. Still they are shouting so much. Modiji and Prasad must reply to a few questions,” he added..business-standard