22 Jan 2021: Facebook data breach: CBI books Cambridge Analytica, Global Science Research
The Central Bureau of Investigation (CBI) has filed a complaint against United Kingdom-based consulting firm Cambridge Analytica and Global Science Research in connection with the Facebook data theft case.
The case pertains to the alleged illegal harvesting of personal data of 5.62 lakh Indian Facebook users.
A preliminary inquiry showed that Global Science Research had entered into a criminal conspiracy with Cambridge Analytica.
Background: App by Global Science Research collected Facebook users' data
Global Science Research had created an app "thisisyourdigitallife" in 2014 which was authorized by Facebook to collect specific datasets of its users for research and academic purposes.
Back in 2018, reports citing former Cambridge Analytica employees had said that the firm harvested private information from over 50 million Facebook users around the world without permission through Global Science Research.
CBI inquiry: Global Science Research 'dishonestly and fraudulently accessed'
Citing the FIR, a CBI official told ANI, "The inquiry prima facie established that Global Science Research Ltd, UK dishonestly and fraudulently accessed data of app users of 'thisisyourdigitallife' and their Facebook friends."
Officials also said the inquiry did not find any evidence of the destruction of data collected by the two firms, as claimed in documents submitted by them to Facebook in 2016-17.
India: 5.62 lakh users affected in India
In April 2018, Facebook had conceded that nearly 5.62 lakh people in India were "potentially affected" by the global data breach by Cambridge Analytica.
According to Facebook, 335 users in India had installed "thisisyourdigitallife" and the data of lakhs of users was accessed via their friends' network.
It is alleged that Cambridge Analytica then used the data to influence India's 2014 general elections.
Fact: Government ordered CBI probe in 2018
Union Minister of Electronics and Information Technology Ravi Shankar Prasad had informed the Parliament in July 2018 that the CBI will be investigating the matter. The probing agency had launched an investigation after receiving a reference from the Ministry.