Mumbai, August 8: The Central Bureau of Investigation (CBI) initiated a preliminary inquiry on Wedmesday to look into data theft of Indians from Facebook by British firms Cambridge Analytica & Global Science Research. In July, Union information technology (IT) minister Ravi Shankar Prasad has said that the government had asked the CBI to probe if data analytics firm Cambridge Analytica illegally obtained and misused data of Indian voters.
While replying in Rajya Sabha to a motion on the misuse of social media platforms for spreading rumours and fake news, Prasad has said that government has entrusted this issue to be investigated by CBI for possible violation of the Information Technology Act, 2000 and IPC (Indian Penal Code). "It is suspected that Cambridge Analytica may have been involved in illegally obtaining data of Indians which could be misused,” Prasad said.
In March this year, a whistle-blower claimed Cambridge Analytica misused a partnership with Facebook to access data from millions of Facebook users. Soon after the Indian government issued a notice to Cambridge Analytica -- the firm at the centre of Facebook users' data breach -- seeking its response on whether it was involved in the misuse of data to profile Indians and influence their voting behaviour.
According to a PTI report, the government notice also sought the company's response on the entities which engaged Cambridge Analytica, the method used by it for possession of data and whether consent was taken from users.
Reports inform that around 87 million users were affected of which 562,000 were in India, according to Facebook. The analytics company allegedly used the data to possibly influence voters in the Brexit vote and the US presidential election in 2016.