App founder named accused in CBI FIR
The aim of illegally harvesting data of 5.6 lakh Indians by CA and GSR was to possibly profile them and influence polls.
CBI says its inquiry had revealed that GSR illegally obtained datasets and passed them on to CA for commercial gains. It found that the accused harvested data of 335 Indian users and through these accounts they managed to get the data of their 5.62 lakh ‘friends’ through an app called ‘thisisyourdigitallife’. There is a political dimension to the case as BJP had accused Congress of using CA as part of its poll strategy. Law minister Ravi Shankar Prasad had warned social media firms against “interfering” in Indian polls.
App founder Alexander Kogan has also been named as accused in the FIR and so has CA’s Alexander Nix. The data collected included demographic information, pages liked on FB etc. CBI says their probe had revealed that Facebook had collected written certificates from both the firms in 2016-17 declaring that the data they had collected through the app was accounted for and had been destroyed. “While this confirms that they had collected the data, it has not been established that it was destroyed,” it said.
CBI said it had contacted the 335 users who were the primary downloaders of the app and six of them responded and recorded their statements unanimously stating that they were unaware that their and their friends’ data had been harvested. Cambridge Analytica had come under fire in 2018 in major data break controversy.