NEW DELHI: The Central Bureau of Investigation has written to Facebook, Cambridge Analytica and Global Science Research with regard to the alleged data theft from social media platforms, sources said on Monday.
According to sources, the investigative agency has sought details of the data collection methods used by the companies.
The CBI, after receiving a reference from the Central government in August, had initiated a preliminary enquiry against Cambridge Analytica and Global Science Research on charges of data theft.
It is alleged that Cambridge Analytica received data from Global Science Research, which employed “illegal means” to harvest personal data of Indians using Facebook, they said. Facebook has more than 20 crore users in India.
“A preliminary enquiry is the first step to decide whether or not the allegations deserve a full-blown investigation through an FIR,” a source in the CBI said.
Data mining and analysis firm Cambridge Analytica earlier faced allegations that it had used personal information harvested from 87 million Facebook accounts to help Donald Trump win the 2016 US presidential election.
Union Law and Information Technology Minister Ravi Shankar Prasad had told Rajya Sabha in July that the probe will 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’.
The Mark Zuckerberg-owned company had said that the data of about 87 million people — mostly in the US — might have been improperly shared with Cambridge Analytica.
On 1 May 2018, Cambridge Analytica and its parent company filed for insolvency proceedings and shut operations.