New Delhi: The Central Bureau of Investigation (CBI) has begun a preliminary enquiry (PE) against Cambridge Analytica and Global Sciences Research for suspected breach of Indian Facebook user’s data, an official at the agency said.

“A PE has been registered against the two companies — the UK-based data analytics company Cambridge Analytica and GSR. This is being done to probe if Cambridge Analytica had picked data from Global Sciences Research (GSR) Ltd, which relates to the personal data of Indians on Facebook. The probe will see if data was harvested and misused," the CBI official cited above said on condition of anonymity.

In July, Union law minister Ravi Shankar Prasad had informed the parliament about the government asking the CBI to investigate the issue. “It is suspected that Cambridge Analytica may have been involved in illegally obtaining data of Indians which could be misused," Prasad said.

Even as Prasad stated that the Centre had sent several notices to Cambridge Analytica, the latter had not responded.

In May, Cambridge Analytica shut down its operations after being accused of illegally harvesting data of 87 million Facebook users, including half a million in India.

“As of now, there will be no immediate legal implications in the matter because Cambridge Analytica has shut down its operations. Second, a preliminary enquiry will merely probe the data breach. The legal implications will be decided if and when a case is registered in the matter," said a person familiar with the developments on condition of anonymity.

The issue had gained political colour with both Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) and the Congress party accusing each other of hiring the services of Cambridge Analytica.

In March, minister Prasad had claimed, citing news reports, that the New York-based company would work for Congress president Rahul Gandhi ahead of the 2019 Lok Sabha elections.

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