Ministry of Electronics and Information Technology has issued a notice to Cambridge Analytica in light of the alleged data breach on Facebook. Cambridge Analytica, seeking the company’s response on whether its ‘psychological profiling’ tool also mined and used the data of Indian Facebook users.

The government has also asked the company to certify that it didn’t misuse data to meddle with Indian elections, and also reveal the name of Indian firms who have availed its services in the past.

The following are few of the questions from the ministry for CA:

  • Whether they have been engaged in any assignment to utilise data of Indians from the above cited breach?
  • Who are the entities that have engaged them for the above?”
  • Was there any profiling done on the basis of such data?
  • How such data collected was used?

Cambridge Analytica and other intermediaries involved in the data breach have been asked to furnish their replies by March 31.

Cambridge Analytica has been facing flak for its alleged involvement in a data breach on Facebook affecting over 50 million users. The UK-based data mining firm then reportedly used the data acquired from this data leak to help Donald Trump win the 2016 US presidential elections. Later, some of its business associates were found to be involved in elections in India too.

Cambridge Analytica’s parent company, Strategic Communications Laboratories, partnered with a firm, Ovleno Business Intelligence (OBI), in India which had mentioned BJP, Congress and JD(U) as its clients on its website before it was taken down earlier this week. “The Ministry of Electronics and Information Technology has issued a notice to Cambridge Analytica, wherein the serious breach of propriety and misuse of data intended to profile and influence voting behaviour has been highlighted,” an official spokesperson said, adding that the firm has been given time until March 31 to respond to the notice.

In its statement, the Ministry also considered the apology of Facebook CEO Mark Zuckerberg “for the mistakes his company had made in handling data belonging to its users” and mentioned his promises to adopt tougher steps to restrict access to user data.

“CERT-IN has issued Advisory Note CIAD-2018-0012 which lays down security best practices to be followed by social media users in order to safeguard personally identifiable information on social network sites,” the Ministry further said.

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