War of words breaks out over data firm Cambridge Analytica

Ravi Shankar Prasad had posed a seven questions to the Congress on its alleged links with Cambridge Analytica.

Published: 23rd March 2018 06:37 AM  |   Last Updated: 23rd March 2018 06:55 AM   |  A+A-

Union Minister Ravi Shankar Prasad (File | PTI)

By Express News Service

NEW DELHI: The slanging match over reports of Cambridge Analytica influencing electoral outcomes continued Thursday with Union Minister for Law and Justice and Electronics and Information Technology Ravi Shankar Prasad accusing the Congress of conspicuous silence over its ties with the data firm. The Congress hit back and equated Prasad with Adolf Hitler’s associate Goebbels.

Stepping up attacks on the Opposition party, Prasad on Thursday asserted that the British firm under fire for data breach and theft had been managing the social media platforms of Congress president Rahul Gandhi. Cambridge Analytica combines data mining, data brokerage, and data analysis with strategic communication for the electoral process

“The Congress has maintained conspicuous silence over its links with Cambridge Analytica. Rahul Gandhi’s entire social media platforms have been managed by Cambridge Analytica. There were meetings as well,” charged Prasad.

Prasad had posed a seven questions to the Congress on its alleged links with Cambridge Analytica. The Congress had dismissed the charges and alleged that the beleaguered data firm had ties with the BJP and its ally JD(U).

Congress media department chairman Randeep Surjewala drew a parallel between the minister and Goebbels and presented him with eight questions related to data theft issue. “Hitler had an associate called Goebbels. Modi has an associate called Ravi Shankar Prasad,” Surjewala quipped. “BJP government is the biggest data thief.”

The Congress leader claimed that the Modi government has become a manufacturer of fake news. Surjewala said Arvind Gupta, the former head of BJP’s IT cell who now runs a government portal, had praised the data firm while Union minister Smriti Irani was following it.

“Gupta says CA means Cambridge Analytic is a powerful tool and when used correctly can provide deep insight and fine tune communication and outreach strategy,” said Surjewala.

The Congress leader charged that the minister was not able to do anything when millions of data related to Aadhar was allegedly leaked, raising doubt about the entire exercise.

“Will the minister assure that he will register cases against CA and OBI for data theft,” said Surjewala. “The truth is that Modi government is running away from accountability to Parliament. (It) is scared of replying to questions being raised by people of this country.”

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