The Central Bureau of Investigation (CBI) has written to British consultancy firm Cambridge Analytica, Facebook
and Global Science Research (GSR) seeking information regarding alleged data theft of 5.62 lakh Indian Facebook users.
The investigation agency has made the communication in connection with its preliminary enquiry that was initiated last month to determine whether GSR and Cambridge Analytica has illegally harvested and misused the data. The preliminary inquiry was commenced on a reference from the Union Law and IT Minister Ravi Shankar Prasad
The Minister in July 2018 had told Rajya Sabha that the probe would be handed over to the CBI. He had said there were also reports that user data was “illegally accessed by hardware manufacturers who had tie-ups with Facebook. In regard to this issue, Facebook has reported that they are not aware of any misuse of information, including Indian users’ information”. After the data breach came to light, the Centre, in March and April this year, had sent communications to Facebook and Cambridge Analytica seeking clarification. Responding to the communications, Cambridge Analytica had said that it did not have any Facebook data on Indian citizens. However, Facebook informed the Centre that Cambridge Analytica had violated its policy and that about 5.62 lakh Indians might have been potentially affected by the data theft case. Cambridge Analytica did not respond to a subsequent notice. Cambridge Analytica, a British consultancy firm, had earlier faced allegations that it used personal information harvested from 87 million Facebook accounts to help Donald Trump win the 2016 US Presidential election.