India takes down Cambridge Analytica's local website after Facebook personal data allegations

IT minister also issues warning to Facebook over election influence

Jon Sharman
Thursday 22 March 2018 10:50 GMT
Facebook data row: What is Cambridge Analytica?

India has suspended the website of a political intelligence company linked to Cambridge Analytica (CA) following allegations the British company misused the data of millions of Facebook users.

SCL India is a joint venture between CA’s London-based parent company and Ovleno Business Intelligence, according to a cached version of Ovleno’s site.

It bills itself as “a research and strategy agency, specialising in data management and behavioural change communications campaigns for political, commercial and social clients”.

But the company has no charges against it, the BBC reported.

India’s IT minister also issued a warning to Facebook that attempts to influence his country’s elections through the platform would not be tolerated.

It came as Mark Zuckerberg spoke out for the first time following renewed allegations that millions of his users had their data collected and used by CA for political purposes without their knowledge.

Ravi Shankar Prasad, the IT minister, tweeted: “We fully endorse freedom of press, freedom of speech & expression and free exchange of ideas on social media but any attempt by social media companies to influence India’s electoral process through undesirable means will neither be appreciated nor tolerated.

“We welcome the fact that @facebook has one of the highest number of users from India but if any theft of data of Indians takes place in collusion with other companies for manipulation of democratic processes then that will not be tolerated.”

CA has forcefully and repeatedly denied wrongdoing, and its chief executive Alexander Nix has been suspended after being filmed boasting about the company’s ability to entrap politicians through bribery.

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