Cambridge Analytica asks for one more week on data breach notice

WION Web Team
New Delhi, Delhi, IndiaUpdated: Apr 02, 2018, 07:46 PM IST

File photo. Photograph:(Reuters)

Cambridge Analytica, the firm at the centre of Facebook users' data breach scandal, has sought one more week to respond to government's notice on whether it was involved in misuse of data to profile Indians and influence their voting behavior.

The notice had gone out to Cambridge Analytica over media reports about questionable practices attributed to the UK-based firm in its efforts to allegedly influence elections by harvesting data of Facebook users globally.

Sources privy to the development said that Cambridge Analytica has now sought an additional time of one week to send its response to the notice issued by the Indian government.

Also, the government of Nigeria is scrutinising the reports of the data mining firm Cambridge Analytica, which swiped the data of more than 50 million Facebook users to sway elections in many countries.

The affected countries include Nigeria, where Cambridge Analytica waged a campaign to perpetuate discord and hack into personal records of the then leading opposition candidate, Muhammadu Buhari, Nigeria’s Premium Times reported.

Cambridge Analytica and Facebook came under fire after the British firm was accused of harvesting personal information of over 50 million Facebook users illegally to influence polls in several countries.

The IT Ministry shot off notices to both Cambridge Analytica and Facebook on the data breach issue, giving them time till March 31, and April 7, respectively, to respond.

The government questioned Cambridge Analytica on whether it had been "engaged in any assignment to utilise data of Indians" pertaining to the recent breach, and also the entities that had used its services. Details were also sought on the methods used by the company to acquire such data and whether consent was taken from users.

An official statement issued last month had said: "Ministry of Electronics & Information Technology, Government of India, 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".

"Was there any profiling done on the basis of such data?," the Ministry had asked the company, following reports that political parties had used the data analytics firm during elections.

Meanwhile, Facebook users whose data was harvested by Cambridge Analytica could be entitled to more than £12,000 in compensation, according to reports.

Facebook could face costs of £625billion and be forced to pay £12,500 in damages to the people affected, reports quoted Dr Maureen Mapp as saying. 

Law and IT Minster Ravi Shankar Prasad has already warned the social media giant of "stringent" action for any attempt to influence polls through data theft, and had even threatened to summon its CEO Mark Zuckerberg, if needed.