Facebook data leak row: KC Tyagi’s son says his firm OBI never worked for JD(U), offers to join any probe

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New Delhi | March 30, 2018 1:10 PM

Amrish is son of KC Tyagi, who is general secretary of Bihar's ruling party Janata Dal (United). His firm Ovleno Business Intelligence (OBI) was named as a client of SCL India by whistleblower Christopher Wylie before a British Parliament panel.

KC Tyagi, Amrish Tyagi, Bihar, Cambridge AnalyticaAmrish Tyagi has denied working for any electoral assignment for JD(U)

Janata Dal (United) leader KC Tyagi’s son Amrish has categorically denied the involvement of his firm in any kind of electoral assignment for his father’s political party. In a statement issued yesterday, Amrish who owns Ovleno Business Intelligence (OBI) said that political parties never signed any project with his group. On its website, now suspended, OBI had claimed that it was a partner of UK-based SCL Group — the parent company of the controversial data-mining firm Cambridge Analytica which is at the centre of the data leak storm. The CA is accused of harvesting personal data from Facebook users’ account without their consent and using them to influence voters based on their physiological behaviours.

Amrish said that there is no point of any type of Facebook or any other social media data breach because political parties namely BJP, Congress never signed any digital project with ‘us nor assigned any work during any elections’. “Also as claimed by CA website for 2010 Bihar elections OBI or SCL UK/Cambridge Analytica never worked with JD(U) for any assignment.”

However, a report published in The Indian Express claimed that Tyagi had on March 20 told the daily about OBI’s role in managing booth profiling for the BJP during the 2012 Assembly polls in Uttar Pradesh. For the Congress, he had said, the OBI did ground surveys in 2011 and 2012 for Youth Congress elections in Jharkhand.

Christopher Wylie, SCL’s former employee, who later turned whistleblower, had earlier this week named JD(U) as its client before a British Parliament panel. According to his testimony, the JD(U) had asked the SCL India to provide electoral research and strategy during 2010 assembly polls which helped the party to identify the correct battlegrounds. The links between SCL’s head office in India and Amrish’s OBI was established, given the fact that the address of the SCL’s India office and OBI on their respective websites were same: 155, Niti Khand, 1 Indirapuram, Ghaziabad. The address was, however, removed by the OBI from its website after Amrish’s firm name was mired in the controversy.

Another proof that established a clear-cut link between Amrish and CA is that he is a director in another Ghaziabad-based company Strategic Communication Private Limited, which also has Alexander Nix, former chief executive of CA, as director, the report said. Amrish, however, clarified that when the company was set up, there were no allegations against any of the directors. Offering to be part of any probe, he said, “We are seeking legal opinions to the removal of my name from SCL.”

Earlier, Amrish’s father KC Tyagi, who also happens to be the general secretary of the JD(U), had defended his son saying the company has only ‘professional links’ with the CA and that the government can investigate the links.

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