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Published On: Wed, Mar 21st, 2018

‘Don’t Mess With India’s Electoral Process’, Govt. Warns Facebook Of ‘Strong Action’

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ravi-shankar-prasad_650x400_61521640040NEW DELHI : India today delivered a sharp warning to social media platforms like Facebook of ‘strong action’ if any attempt was made by them to influence the country’s electoral process through undesirable means.
IT & Law Minister Ravishankar Prasad on Wednesday alleged that the Congress had liaised with data analytics company Cambridge Analytica, which is in the eye of the storm over misuse of data sourced from Facebook. The Congress, however, termed the Minister’s charge “a white lie”.
Amid probe by US privacy watchdog over a potential breach of user confidentiality by Facebook, Minister Prasad said the government fully supports freedom of press, speech and expression and is for exchange of ideas on social media. But any attempt by social media sites, including Facebook, to influence India’s electoral process through undesirable means will not be tolerated, he told reporters in Parliament House complex._85804498_85804495
Facebook is facing the heat after Cambridge Analytica, a British consulting company, was accused of harvesting data of up to 50 million Facebook users without permission and using the data to help politicians, including US President Donald Trump and the Brexit campaign. “20 crore Indians are on Facebook,” he said, turning his focus on the Facebook founder who hasn’t spoken on the data breach so fa.
“In the wake of recent data theft from Facebook, let my stern warning be heard across the Atlantic, far away in California,” the minister said.
“Mr Mark Zuckerberg, You better note the observation of IT Minister of India. We welcome the Facebook profile from India are the highest in the world. But if any data theft of Indiansis done with the collusion of Facebook system, this shall not be tolerated. We have got stringent power under IT act. We shall use it including summoning you in India,” the minister said. India doesn’t have data protection law.
“Facebook knows my power. We didn’t permit them free basics. And Facebook will also need to recognise that I understand that Facebook has got the biggest footprint in India,” he said, underlining that the social media major follow all norms.”In the wake of recent data theft from Facebook, let my stern warning be

heard across the Atlantic, far away in California. Any covert or overt attempt to misuse social media including Facebook to influence India’s electoral process through undesirable means will neither be tolerated, nor be permitted,” he said.
Mr Prasad targeted the Congress as well, citing media reports that suggested consulting firm at the centre of the data breach had been in talks with the Congress party. His charges however were strongly contested by the Congress which said it was the BJP and Nitish Kumar’s JDU that used Cambridge Analytica’s services in 2010.

At a press conference in New Delhi on Wednesday, Mr. Prasad posed three questions to the Congress. “Will the Congress party depend on data manipulation and theft to woo voters? Does the Congress end orse the methods used by Cambridge Analytica, namely sex, sleaze and fake news? What is Cambridge Analytica’s role in Rahul Gandhi’s social media profile?”
He asked these questions after reading out news reports, which stated that the British company had reached out to the Congress with a social media strategy ahead of elections in the country.

Later in the day, Congress spokesperson Randeep Surjewala said neither the party nor its president Rahul Gandhi used the services of Cambridge Analytica. “It is a fake agenda and white lie being dished out by Ravi Shankar Prasad,” he said.
Mr. Surjewala also accused the BJP of running a “fake news factory.” He said, “BJP’s factory of fake news has produced one more fake product today.” (With Agency Inputs ).


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