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Congress hits back at BJP on Cambridge Analytica link allegations, says 'lawless' Law Minister spreading 'fake news'

Union Law Minister Ravi Shankar Prasad said the Congress was in talks with Cambridge Analytica, a data analytics firm accused of gaining inappropriate access to Facebook users' data

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Congress hits back at BJP on Cambridge Analytica link allegations, says 'lawless' Law Minister spreading 'fake news'
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The Congress on Wednesday hit back at the ruling BJP for suggesting that the opposition party was in talks with Cambridge Analytica, a data analytics firm accused of gaining inappropriate access to Facebook users' data, for  2019 general elections. 

Union Law Minister Ravi Shankar 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. The firm has been accused of harvesting personal information from Facebook illegally to influence polls in several countries, including in the US and the UK. 

 

The Congress has denied any links with the controversial firm saying the news is false. 

"News about Congress engaged/engaging with Cambridge Analytica is absolutely false," Congress' Digital Communications chief Divya Spandana said. 

Congress spokesperson Randeep Surjewala called Prasad a "lawless" Law Minister who is spreading "fake news."

"BJP's factory of fake news has produced one more fake product today. It appears fake statements, fake press conferences and fake agendas have become everyday character of the BJP and its 'Lawless' Law Minister Ravi Shankar Prasad," Surjewala said. 

"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 Ravi Shankar Prasad," he said. 

 

The Congress alleged that it was the BJP which used the services of Cambridge Analytica's Indian partner Ovleno Business Intelligence (OBI) in previous elections.

"Cambridge Analytica's linked website shows that in 2010 its services were used by BJP-JD(U). Firm's Indian partner Ovleno Business Intelligence (OBI) is being run by BJP ally's MP's son. OBI company's services were used by Rajnath Singh in 2009," Surjewala said. 

OBI is headed by Amrish Tyagi, the son of JD(U) leader and former Rajya Sabha MP KC Tyagi.

Earlier, Prasad questioned the Congress' "silence" despite reports of its link with the company accused of using "sex, sleaze and fake news" to influence elections. 

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

 

Prasad also warned Facebook of stringent legal action against any misuse of data of more than 200 million Indians on its platform.

Media report earlier said that OBI and Cambridge Analytica were in talks with both the BJP and the Congress for a possible collaboration for their 2019 Lok Sabha election campaigns. 

The OBI had worked for the JD(U)-BJP alliance in Bihar's 2010 elections and then for the BJP in Uttar Pradesh in 2012.

(With PTI inputs)

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