Cambridge Analytica row updates: Amid political blame game, OBI says it is 'looking to end association' with CA

The BJP and the Congress on Wednesday accused each other of using the services of embattled data consultancy firm Cambridge Analytica (CA).

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  • 17:04 (IST)

    Congress furnishes 'proof' to show links between BJP, Cambridge Analytica

    ​At a press conference, the Congress alleged links between the BJP and Cambridge Analytica. As an evidence, it shared that the former BJP IT data head and current head of MyGov website Arvind Gupta tweet praising Cambridge Analytica in 2017. It also claimed that Union minister Smriti Irani follows Cambridge Analytica on Twitter.

    Image procured by Debobrat Ghose

  • 16:55 (IST)

    OBI 'looking to end its association' with Cambridge Analytica

    In a statement,  Ovelina Business Intelligence (OBI) said that it believes in ethics and legal system of India. 

    "We are not denying our association with SCL/Cambridge Analytica but we are a ground research company closely working with various media houses and are not undertaking any project with Cambridge Analytica related to social media (specially Facebook). We are equally shocked and surprised to see the data breach controversy and we are also looking to end our association with them. Cambridge Analytica has already suspended Alexander Nix, who is under fire in all this controversy, but we are not authorised to speak on behalf of them," OBI said.

    "We again want to clarify that neither the whistle-blower nor Facebook has confirmed that there is any kind of data breach in India," it said.

  • 16:36 (IST)

    JD(U) has no relation with Cambridge Analytica: KC Tyagi

  • 16:25 (IST)

    RJD targets JD(U), says it was Cambridge Analytics' client since 2010

    Taking a dig at Nitish Kumar's stance on zero tolerance, RJD leader Tejashwi Yadav told ANI that there is a difference between what "they say and what they do."

    He told TImes Now that Ovelina Business Intelligence, which is under the scanner for the alleged data theft, mentions JD(U) and BJP as its clients on its website. 

    He also took to Twitter to question the two parties' involvement in the alleged data leak.

  • 16:17 (IST)

    Everything is open to probe, says KC Tyagi

  • 16:12 (IST)

    My son not linked to Cambridge Analytica: KC Tyagi

    Senior JD(U) leader KC Tyagi denied that his son Amrish had any links to Cambridge Analytica. In 2010 polls, there was no role of the firm. On behalf of JD(U), I want to say the party did not take take any help from the firm."

    "If my son has committed a mistake, I would want the Indian government to take action against him," he added.

  • 15:58 (IST)

    BJP 'inventor of fake news': Congress

    "The BJP's daily encounter of truth, both inside and outside the Parliament, is being witnessed by the country," said Congress communications in-charge Randeep Surjewala.

    Taking a dig at the BJP-led government, he said, "Hitler had an associate called Goebbels, Narendra Modi has an associate called Ravi Shankar Prasad." 

    He accused the BJP of manufacturing "fake news". "Sabse bade data chor macha rahe hain sabse zyada shor", he said.

  • 15:49 (IST)

    Congress says Ravi Shankar Prasad's designation should be changed to jhoot mantri

    Congress spokesperson Randeep Surjewala said, "39 Indians lost their lives in Iraq. For four year, Modi government kept fooling the people of the country. The proceedings are being disrupted so that they faults are not discussed."

    Lashing out at the BJP for levelling charges against the Congress over the alleged data theft, he said, "Ravi Shankar Prasad should be renamed from law minister to 'jhoot mantri'."

  • 15:11 (IST)

    Nitish Kumar seeks explanation from KC Tyagi over son's alleged role in data theft

    On Thursday, media reports said that senior JD(U) leader KC Tyagi’s son, Amrish, is the owner of Ovelina Business Intelligence (OBI), the Indian associate of Cambridge Analytica, which is under the scanner over allegations stealing the data of over 50 million Facebook users. 

  • 14:55 (IST)

    BJP spokesperson GVL Narasimha Rao takes dig at Rahul Gandhi's tweet over data leak charges

  • 14:24 (IST)

    Mukhtar Abbas Naqvi hits out at Rahul Gandhi

  • 14:08 (IST)

    Facebook suspends account of data leak whistleblower

  • 14:03 (IST)

    Congress never used services of a data mining firm, says Sam Pitroda

  • 13:38 (IST)

    Rahul Gandhi on the data leak row:

  • 13:29 (IST)

    Ravi Shankar Prasad says three articles show Congress misused CA data

    Ravi Shankar Prasad referred to three news articles which claimed that Congress was in talks with the big data mining company right before the Gujarat elections.

    These three articles published between October and November 2017, Prasad alleged, show that Congress misused the services of Cambridge Analytica to win elections in India.

    "There are many suspicious signs available that show that they (Congress) misued the services of the company," he said. One of the articles defined the services of the data mining company as Congress' 'Brahmastra' in the Gujarat elections, he added.

    "They have used and miused Cambridge Analytica during the Gujarat elections. And when they are caught, they are saying we have no connection with the company. Congress was involved with Cambridge Analytica in the Gujarat polls," he said.

  • 13:23 (IST)

    Rahul Gandhi's entire social media campaign managed by Cambridge Analytica

    "Rahul Gandhi's entire social media campaign has been managed with the help of Cambridge Analytica and they have had meetings also," alleged Ravi Shankar Prasad in a press conference.

    "Congress has maintained conspicuous silence (on their links with Cambridge Analytica)," ANI further quoted the Union minister as saying.

  • 13:18 (IST)

    CA has engaged in data mining for electoral processes across the world

    CA had also engaged in data mining and analysis for the electoral processes in other countries like Colombia, Indonesia, Italy, Malaysia and Thailand.

    CA has itself stated on its website that it "was contracted to undertake an in-depth electorate analysis for the Bihar Assembly Election in 2010".

    It also says that apart from research, CA was also asked to "organise the party base" by working to increase supporter motivation.

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Latest updates: Ovelina Business Intelligence has said that it is seeking to end its association with Cambridge Analytica. Senior JD(U) leader KC Tyagi has denied any links between his son and Cambridge Analytica. The RJD, however, questioned Bihar chief minister Nitish Kumar's stand on his 'zero tolerance' policy.

Congress lashed out at the Narendra Modi government for levelling charges against it for the alleged data leak and said that the BJP is the "inventor of fake news".

Bihar chief minister Nitish Kumar has sought explanation from senior JD(U) leader KC Tyagi over his son's role in the alleged data theft. Tyagi’s son, Amrish, is the owner of Ovelina Business Intelligence (OBI), the Indian associate of Cambridge Analytica, which is under the scanner over allegations stealing the data of over 50 million Facebook users.

Union minister Mukhtar Abbas Naqvi lashed out at Rahul Gandhi, asking why the Congress president has a problem with the data leak expose. BJP's Ravi Shankar Prasad has alleged that Rahul Gandhi's entire social media campaign was managed by CA.

The BJP and the Congress on Wednesday accused each other of using the services of embattled data consultancy firm Cambridge Analytica (CA) that along with Facebook is at the centre of a global row over the alleged unauthorised use of personal data from the social media giant.

As the firestorm over the issue hit India, the government warned Facebook, which is being probed by US and British lawmakers over a potential breach of user confidentiality, of stringent action if any attempt was made to influence the country's electoral process through "undesirable means".

However, the company's India partner Oveleno Business Intelligence (OBI) lists the BJP, the Congress and the JD(U) as its clients. The India partner is by Amrish Tyagi, son of senior JD(U) leader KC Tyagi. In media interviews, the junior Tyagi admitted that the Youth Congress in Jharkhand, the BJP and the JD(U) had used its services to conduct research.

Representational image. Reuters

Representational image. Reuters

BJP leader and Union Law and IT and Telecom Minister Ravi Shankar Prasad cited media reports to allege that the Congress was using the services of the London-based political data analytics firm for the next Lok Sabha election and boost its president Rahul Gandhi's social media profile and its outreach.

"The Congress must explain if it has engaged in data trade with Cambridge Analytica," the minister said.

He said the number of Gandhi's followers on Twitter had risen recently and wondered if the Congress had used the services of the Cambridge Analytica for this "fake popularity".

"Will the Congress now depend on data manipulation and theft to woo voters," Prasad asked.

"These days, there is a lot of news about CA and how it has been involved in data theft, psychometric analysis, data manipulation and subversion of democratic processes. Can the Congress deny that?" he asked.

The Congress returned the fire and accused the BJP of having availed the firm's services in 2010.

"The Congress or its president have never used or hired the services of Cambridge Analytica," Congress spokesperson Randeep Singh Surjewala said.

"This is fake agenda, a white lie being dished out on fake facts by the law minister. And this has become a daily order with Prasad."

Surjewala alleged it was the BJP and its ally Janata Dal-United which used the services of Cambridge Analytica.

"I think the BJP and Ravi Shankar Prasadji have the maximum experience of Cambridge Analytica, the company they say has indulged in manipulation."

Surjewala cited the firm's website saying that it "was contracted to undertake an in-depth electoral analysis for Bihar assembly elections in 2010".

"If the company does manipulation, why were the BJP and the JD-U using it. But in his pack of lies, he forgot to tell the truth."

Citing media reports, the BJP leader asked the Congress to clarify whether the now-sacked CA CEO Alexender Nix had met several opposition leaders to plan the UPA's election strategy for 2019.

"How many times did Rahul Gandhi and Nix meet and what did they discuss? What is the CA's role in Rahul Gandhi's social media presence?"

"It is a matter of grave concern for crores of online users in India that online data and browsing patterns are being used for such means. I want to specifically warn the Congress that the nation will not tolerate any kind of data theft or manipulation in India."

He asked the "Grand Old Party" how much stolen data from Cambridge Analytica was in its possession and how much data of Indian users had been handed over to the firm by the Congress.

Alleging that the firm had been found using illegal means of data manipulation to subvert the democratic process in Kenya, Prasad said the Congress was aligning with such forces to divide the society and win elections.

Prasad, speaking about the concerns being raised over Cambridge Analytica influencing election results, said the government was in touch with the US Federal Trade Commission and the Department of Justice to assess the privacy violations of Indian users.

"We will also summon the company and Facebook to assess the data theft of Indian users and will take strictest action."

Prasad reminded Facebook chief Mark Zuckerberg of powers of India's IT Act, saying "you better note the observation of the IT Minister of India".

"If any data theft of Indians is done with the collusion of Facebook systems, it will not be tolerated. We have got stringent powers in the IT Act including summoning you in India."

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