Cambridge Analytica whistleblower Christopher Wylie said that he "believed" that India's Congress party had used the controversial data analytics firm's services for regional political campaigns and that the company had worked extensively in India.
Shares in Facebook itself remain more than 17% down since mid-March, when reports emerged that political consultancy firm Cambridge Analytica - which was hired by Donald Trump's presidential campaign team - had allegedly illegally harvested information from 50 million Facebook users. Wylie, 28, claims the data was sold to CA, which then used it to psychologically profile people and deliver material in favour of Donald Trump during the 2016 USA elections.
In an interview to journalist Carole Cadwalladr, the 28-year-old former employee of CA Chris Wylie revealed that the company acquired data in 2014 via an app named thisisyourdigitallife, which was built by Aleksandr Kogan, an academic at Cambridge University. "This is what modern colonialism looks like", he said.
According to Scroll, the British behavioural research company's Indian arm carried out surveys of voters for Nitish Kumar's Janata Dal (United) during the 2010 Bihar Assembly elections, as well as for a "major political party" during the 2007 polls in Uttar Pradesh.
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Meanwhile, CA's parent firm, Strategic Communications Laboratories (SCL), operates in India through a local partner, Ovlene Business Intelligence (OBI), owned by Amrish Tyagi, son of senior JDU leader KC Tyagi. Curiously, it shows them having apparently worked in Uttar Pradesh (2012, 2011, 2007), Bihar (2007), Kerala (2007), West Bengal (2007), Assam (2007), Jharkhand (2007), Madhya Pradesh (2003), Rajasthan (2003) and also, the national elections of 2009 where its "proprietary data collection methodologies" was used by "a number of Lok Sabha candidates" to form campaigning strategies.
"Wylie, who came to the hearing with his hair dyed pink, said that besides the work for Congress, CA has "done all kinds of projects" in India".
The government last Friday had issued a notice seeking details relating to breach of data from Facebook particularly with regard to reports in the media about questionable practices attributed to Cambridge Analytica in their efforts to influence elections.
"But they do have offices there (in India)". Wylie, on Tuesday, stated that he believed "Congress was a client" of CA.
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A poster of Indian National Congress (INC) party at the London office of the Cambridge Analytica's now-suspended CEO Alexander Nix might add some trouble for the party. Surjewala said Mr. Prasad and the Modi government refuse to answer these questions and "they only want to divert the agenda".
Wylie, who exposed the data breach scandal involving Facebook, attached a document to his Twitter post, detailed the company's India operations, a day after his testimony to the United Kingdom parliament. "Congress Party needs to apologize to the nation for data theft and trying to manipulate voters", tweeted Ravi Shankar Prasad, the country's information technology minister.
He said Tuesday that it had previously been involved in Nigerian elections, and had an Israeli company called Black Cube to hack private health data from current Nigerian president Muhammadu Buhari.
Colorado Democratic Party Chair Morgan Carroll on Wednesday called for Colorado Attorney General Cynthia Coffman to investigate Cambridge Analytica's role in the state's 2014 elections, suggesting Colorado was "the guinea pig" in the company's "experiment" involving US elections. We challenge you (Bharatiya Janata Party).
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The controversy over Facebook data is likely to continue to reverberate in India, a country of 1.3 billion that is its largest market, with more than 250 million users. Also, lawmakers said that the Facebook co-founder has to appear before US Congress.