The Central Bureau of Investigation (CBI) on Thursday registered a case against UK-based political consulting company Cambridge Analytica for the ‘illegal harvesting’ of personal data from Facebook users in India. The agency has also named Global Science Research Ltd in its complaint, officials said.
The action came after a preliminary enquiry into the matter which showed that Global Science Research had created an app “thisisyourdigitallife” which was authorised by Facebook to collect specific datasets of its users for research and academic purposes in 2014, they said.
In 2018, reports had surfaced which said firm had harvested private information from the Facebook profiles of over 50 million worldwide without their consent. Union Minister of Electronics and Information Technology Ravi Shankar Prasad had informed the Parliament at the time that CBI would launch a probe into the Facebook-Cambridge Analytica data theft case.
It was found that Facebook entered into a criminal conspiracy with Cambridge Analytica, allowing it to use the data harvested by it for commercial purposes, the officials said. Facebook had collected certificates from both the firms in 2016-17 that data collected by them using “thisisyourdigitallife” was accounted for and destroyed. However, the CBI enquiry did not find any evidence of any such destruction, according to the officials.
“The enquiry prima facie established that Global Science Research Ltd, UK dishonestly and fraudulently accessed data of app users of “thisisyourdigitallife” and their Facebook friends,” an official said, citing the FIR.