Facebook data breach: Congress hits back, accuses government of diverting attention from death of Indians in Iraq

The BJP on Wednesday questioned links between the Congress and Cambridge Analytica and wondered if it will now depend on "data theft" to woo voters.

 Facebook data breach: Congress hits back, accuses government of diverting attention from death of Indians in Iraq

New Delhi: The Congress on Wednesday strongly denied allegations of having links with Cambridge Analytica, a data mining firm accused of harvesting personal information from Facebook.

Head of Congress social media, Divya Spandana (Ramya) tweeted, "News about Congress engaged/engaging with Cambridge Analytica is absolutely false."

She also accused the government of diverting attention from the 39 Indians who died in Iraq. "Can you please tell us why your government lied to us about the 39 Indians who died in Iraq? You hid the information and now you’re trying to divert attention from the issue by making outrageous allegations against the Congress party," Divya asked Union Minister Ravi Shankar Prasad.

Later, Congress spokesperson Randeep Surjewala addressed the press and said, "BJP's factory of fake news has produced one more fake product today. It appears fake statements, fake press conferences and fake agendas have becoman e everyday character of BJP and its 'lawless' Law Minister Ravi Shankar Prasad."

He added, "Indian National Congress or the Congress president has never used or never hired the services of a company called Cambridge Analytica. It is a fake agenda and white lie being dished out by Union Law Minister."

Earlier on Wednesday, the BJP questioned links between the Congress and Cambridge Analytica and wondered if it will now depend on "data theft" to woo voters.

Addressing the press, Prasad cited media reports about the Opposition party's plan to use the firm's services for the next Lok Sabha elections and to boost its president Rahul Gandhi's profile. He asked Rahul to explain the company's role in his social media outreach.

The firm, the BJP leader said, has been accused of using "sex, sleaze and fake news" to influence elections and asked if the Congress too plans to walk the same path.

"The Congress must explain if it has engaged in data trade with Cambridge Analytica," he said, questioning the opposition party's "silence" despite numerous reports of its link with the company.

Prasad, the law and IT minister, used the occasion to warn Facebook of stringent legal action against any misuse of data of more than 200 million Indians on its platform.

Targeting the Congress, he said the number of Rahul's Twitter followers had shot up recently and wondered if it was due to the services of the firm that he achieved this "fake popularity".

It is not a question of liaison between the Congress and a data firm but about attempts to influence democratic processes which his government would not allow, Prasad said and Facebook founder and CEO Mark Zuckerberg against any abuse of data of Indians on its platform. 

(With PTI inputs)