Cambridge Analytica row: On backfoot as whistleblower names party as client, Congress dares Centre to book OBI, Facebook for data breach

By: | Published: March 28, 2018 9:14 AM

Controversial data firm Cambridge Analytica's former staffer Christopher Wylie on Tuesday revealed that the firm worked extensively in India and that he 'believes' the Indian National Congress (INC) was its client, triggering a fresh war of words between the BJP and Congress.

Cambridge Analytica FACEBOOK“I believe their (Cambridge Analytica) client was Congress but I know that they have done all kinds of projects. I don’t remember a national project but I know regionally. India’s so big that one state can be as big as Britain,” Christopher Wylie said

Controversial data firm Cambridge Analytica’s former staffer Christopher Wylie on Tuesday revealed that the firm worked extensively in India and that he ‘believes’ the Indian National Congress (INC) was its client, triggering a fresh war of words between the BJP and Congress. Deposing before a parliamentary committee, Wylie said that the firm has offices in India. He said that he has some documentation on India which he can provide to the panel ‘if that’s something of interest’.

“I believe their (Cambridge Analytica) client was Congress but I know that they have done all kinds of projects. I don’t remember a national project but I know regionally. India’s so big that one state can be as big as Britain,” he said as part of his deposition before the Digital, Culture, Media and Sport Committee of the House of Commons.

The data analytics expert, who was a research director with SCL Group, the parent company of Cambridge Analytica, from June 2013 to July 2014, alleged that the firm used personal information extracted from more than 5 crore Facebook users to influence elections.

BJP seeks Rahul’s apology

Soon after the media reported about his confession last evening, senior BJP leader and Union Minister Ravi Shankar Prasad told mediapersons that Wylie’s deposition before the UK Parliament committee vindicated the saffron party’s charge that the Congress availed services of the firm during Gujarat assembly polls last December. The party has claimed that footprints of the Congress-Cambridge Analytica ties were visible during the Gujarat elections and that it ran a ‘poisonous’ campaign in the western state to win the elections. The BJP has also claimed that Congress president Rahul Gandhi has signed a deal with the CA in a bid to win 2019 Lok Sabha polls.

Prasad said that the Congress party lied to the nation and Rahul Gandhi must tender an apology. “Congress and Rahul Gandhi must now apologise.”

Congress hits back

The Congress immediately hit back saying ‘Prasad is perpetually lying’ and dared the government to file an FIR against Cambridge Analytica, its India partner Ovleno Business Intelligence (OBI) and Facebook. Congress chief spokesperson Randeep Surjewala said, “It is all false.” He asked Prasad to quit his office if he can’t answer the questions raised by the grand old party. “If you can’t answer, you better quit your office. You have no right to remain law minister of this country.”

Charges against CA

The firm harvested personal data from more than 5 crore Facebook profiles without their consent. These users’ profiles were used to develop a system to target voters during 2016 presidential elections in the US with personalised advertisements. Besides, manufactured scandals, fake news and tricks were used to swing mood of people around the world.

The firm is also accused of accessing users’ data improperly to influence the British voters in the run for elections.
Meanwhile, there are reports that Facebook founder Mark Zuckerberg could testify before the US Congress over his firm’s involvement in the entire data breach row.

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