NEW DELHI: The Centre wants a CBI inquiry against data mining and analysis firm Cambridge Analytica in the data breach case. The Ministry of Electronics & Information Technology has written to the CBI demanding a probe against the company for violation of the IT Act as well as IPC.
Responding on the issue of ‘action on misuse of social media and fake news’, Union IT Minister Ravi Shankar Prasad on Thursday told the Rajya Sabha that the government had “entrusted the issue to be investigated by the CBI for possible violation of Information Technology Act, 2000 and IPC”.
The minister said that in response to the notices issued by the government, Cambridge Analytica gave an initial response that the data of Indians was not breached, but this was not found in conformity with what was reported by Facebook.
“Cambridge Analytica also did not respond to a subsequent notice. Therefore, it is suspected that Cambridge Analytica may have been involved in illegally obtaining data of Indians which could be misused,” Prasad said.
The government also blamed WhatsApp forwards for the mob lynching incidents. The minister said the government took up the issue with WhatsApp and the firm had brought certain changes such as restricting forwards to five and highlighting forwards. He said these steps were significant but inadequate. He wanted WhatsApp to notify law enforcement agencies whenever such rumours are spread.
Prasad said fake and hoax news spread on websites are regularly being taken down. He also said that 457, 95 and 321 pages of Facebook, YouTube and Twitter, respectively, had been taken down in 2017.
The government has asked social media agencies to appoint grievance officers as point of contact between the firm and the government. “The government is seriously considering that through appropriate rules, all social media platforms should be required to locate their grievance officer in India who could act as point of contact,” he said.
Fixing responsibility of social media
Union minister Ravi Shankar Prasad said social media platforms can’t evade their responsibility and larger commitment to ensure there is no misuse to spread fake news. “If they don’t take prompt action, then the law of abetment also applies to them,” he said.