Congress compromising national security by hiring CA for 2019 campaign: BJP

New Delhi, March 21: Amid allegations of misuse of personal data for political purposes by social media giant Facebook, the BJP on Wednesday hit out at Congress accusing it of compromising national security by reportedly roping in political data analytics firm Cambridge Analytica (CA) to run its 2019 election campaign.

The Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) alleged that CA had been found involved in data manipulation and warned that any attempt to misuse social media to influence India's electoral process would not be tolerated and the government would take necessary legal action.

"Any covert or overt attempt to misuse social media including Facebook to influence India's electoral process through undesirable means will neither be tolerated, nor permitted," Union Law Minister Ravi Shankar Prasad said at a press conference.

He said that CA -- the agency which hired by the Congress to run its 2019 campaign -- is accused of using bribes, sex workers to entrap politicians and stealing data from Facebook.

"Abuse of social media including Facebook cannot be allowed to impact the fairness of elections. In the wake of recent data theft from Facebook, let my stern warning be heard across the Atlantic, far away in California," the senior BJP leader said.

Accusing Congress of depending upon data manipulation and theft to win votes, Prasad
also asked the Congress whether it depends on data theft, and found manipulation ability the sole criteria to hire CA.

"These days, there is 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.

Citing media reports, the BJP leader also asked the Congress to clarify whether now-sacked CA CEO Alexender Nix has met several opposition leaders to design the the UPA's electoral strategy for the next Lok Sabha elections.

"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," he asked.

"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 said.

The Minister also sought to know from the "Grand Old Party" as to how much stolen data from CA was in posession of the Congress and how much data of Indian users had been handed over to the firm by the party.

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

"We have seen this in Gujarat. We are seeing what they are doing in Karnataka," he said.

Prasad 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," he warned.

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