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Govt examining Facebook, Cambridge Analytica responses: Source

The government is "examining" the responses furnished by Facebook and Cambridge Analytica on the data breach issue, while it keeps a close watch on global developments on the matter, a senior IT Ministry official said today.

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The government is "examining" the responses furnished by Facebook and Cambridge Analytica on the data breach issue, while it keeps a close watch on global developments on the matter, a senior IT Ministry official said today.

The US social networking giant is facing intense scrutiny from its users as well as governments across the globe after a data leak scandal hit about 87 million users.

British data analytics and political consulting firm Cambridge Analytica has been accused of harvesting personal information of millions of Facebook users illegally to help political campaigns and influence polls in several countries.

The Indian government too had shot-off notices to both the companies questioning them on the impact of the data breach, following which Facebook admitted that nearly 5.62 lakh people in India were "potentially affected" by the incident. Facebook has over 20 crore users in the country.

"The responses are being examined in the context of global developments," the official in IT Ministry said.

Noting that the data leak episode was global and the nature of irregularities involved were "by and large similar", the official said that the IT Ministry is keeping a close watch on the developments that are unfolding across countries that have been hit by the data fiasco.

In its reply to the Indian government's notice, Facebook had informed that "only 335 people" in India were directly affected through the installation of an app and another 5,62,120 people were "potentially affected" as friends of those users.

Cambridge Analytica, on the other hand, is believed to have responded saying it had not used the personal information of Indian users from Facebook.

Facebook, which is facing probes in multiple markets over potential breach of user confidentiality, had said yesterday that it is introducing a third-party fact-checking programme in India to combat the spread of "false news" on its platform, starting with a pilot in Karnataka, which goes to polls next month.

Earlier, the chair of the British Parliament's media committee says that Cambridge Analytica's former CEO, Alexander Nix, says he will no longer testify at un upcoming session on fake news, citing an ongoing investigation by the information commissioner's office.

Nix had been recalled by the committee to testify tomorrow following testimony by whistleblower Christopher Wylie on the use of data by some 87 million Facebook users in the campaign for Donald Trump's presidential election.

Committee chair Damian Collins rejected Nix's reason for not appearing, as he has not "not been charged with any criminal offence and there is no active legal proceedings." Collins says Tuesday that the committee "is minded to issue a formal summons for him to appear on a named day in the very near future."

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