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Political Slugfest Breaks Out as Whistleblower Names Congress as Cambridge Analytica Client

BJP has questioned links between the Congress and Cambridge Analytica. Taking a stern view of reports on the misuse of user data obtained from social media platform Facebook, the IT Ministry in a statement said that "breach of privacy cannot be tolerated".

News18.com

Updated:March 27, 2018, 8:57 PM IST
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Political Slugfest Breaks Out as Whistleblower Names Congress as Cambridge Analytica Client
BJP's Ravi Shankar Prasad and Comgress' Randeep Surjewala both addressed the media to level charges against each other.
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Christopher Wylie, the whistleblower who kicked up a massive storm across the world over ‘data theft’ carried out by his former employers Cambridge Analytica, said on Tuesday that the Congress party was one of the political parties in India that had used the services of the tainted company. Wylie also said that the company had large-scale operations in India and even had an office here.

Twenty-eight-year-old Wylie was deposing before the UK Parliament on Tuesday when he reiterated the allegations against CA.

"I believe their client was Congress but I know that they have done all kinds of project. I don't remember a national project but I know regionally. India's so big that one state can be as big as Britain. But they do have offices there, they do have staff," Wylie said while speaking at the UK Parliament.

Soon after the deposition got over, union minister for law and information technology demanded an apology from the Congress and its president Rahul Gandhi.

"The whistleblower confirmed that Congress party was their client. The Congress had publicly denied that relation with Cambridge Analytica. Congress has to apologise to the nation. Rahul Gandhi will have to apologise. They have been exposed. This shows they don’t trust people,” he said.

Congress spokesperson Randeep Surjewala addressed the media right after Prasad’s allegations and said, “Ravi Shankar Prasad is a liar. He is in power, so why doesn't he show all the proof and register an FIR. We challenge you. They fear they will be exposed if a probe is started."

The UK-based data analytics firm has been in the eye of a global scandal surrounding Facebook and an application on the social media platform that harvested data of over 50 million users only to use it to influence voters in elections.

The scandal that has unfurled across the world over the past one week has seen both BJP and Congress levelling serious allegations of ‘data theft’ and voter influencing against each other by employing CA’s services.

Cambridge Analytica’s India-affiliate Ovleno Business Intelligence (OBI) carried the names and logos of BJP, Congress and JD(U) in its client list, while the company’s vice-president, Himanshu Sharma, boasted of having successfully delivered 272+ seats for BJP in the 2014 Lok Sabha elections.

The company has been accused of illegally sourcing data of over 50 million Facebook users and then using it to influence them in several elections, including the 2016 US Presidential elections, Brexit referendum and the 2014 Lok Sabha elections closer home.

OBI also stated in its website (that has now been suspended) that it had worked with JD(U) in the 2010 Bihar Assembly elections, which the party had won in a partnership with BJP.

Last week, BJP questioned links between the Congress and Cambridge Analytica. Taking a stern view of reports on the misuse of user data obtained from social media platform Facebook, the IT Ministry in a statement said that "breach of privacy cannot be tolerated".

Whistleblower Wylie on Tuesday observed that the company’s approach was more like a “modern day colonizer” that worked and influenced elections in several countries, including India.

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| Edited by: Sanchari Chatterjee
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