Facebook data breach: Govt planning long-term strategy to secure data on Indians

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New Delhi: The government is planning to come up with a long-term strategy to secure data on Indians, especially those using social media. Information and technology and law minister Ravi Shankar Prasad on Thursday met top officials of the IT ministry to discuss the plan, said a person aware of the development.

The move comes after information on more than 50 million Facebook users were allegedly accessed without their consent by London-based analytics firm, Cambridge Analytica. The firm is accused of harvesting private data from millions of Facebook profiles to influence and identify voter behaviour in the US elections.

A draft data protection framework is expected to be released by the IT ministry in a couple of months which will address issues such as collection of personal data, consent of consumers, penalties and compensation, code of conduct and an enforcement model.

On Wednesday, Prasad, who is also a senior Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) spokesperson, had accused the Congress party of indulging in “theft of online data” to help with its election campaigns. He had also warned Facebook of stringent legal action if it was found misusing data on Indians.

Ovleno Business Intelligence (OBI), the Indian affiliate of Cambridge Analytica on Thursday denied use of any data collected from the public without their consent for any of its political analysis.

“We are equally shocked and surprised to see the data breach controversy and we are also looking to end our association with them,” Himanshu Sharma, vice-president of OBI said, according to a report from ANI.

The firm also denied having worked with Cambridge Analytica on any project related to social media.

As the war of words continued between the BJP and the Congress party, the issue escalated on Thursday with both the parties accusing each other.

Congress president Rahul Gandhi attacked the BJP-led Union government in a tweet saying that the party has “invented story on Congress and data theft” to deflect attention from the controversy over 39 Indians dying in captivity in Iraq.

Prasad hit out at Gandhi accusing him of doing politics over dead bodies.

Both parties have said they have not used the services of Cambridge Analytica.livemint