Home / Technology / Tech-news /  India issues notice to Facebook over data breach

New Delhi: The ministry of electronics and information technology on Wednesday wrote to Facebook Inc., seeking replies from the company on queries regarding Indian data on the social media platform.

The government has sent five questions to the company and sought a response by 7 April, the ministry said in a statement.

The move comes after a political consultancy harvested 50 million Facebook users’ data to benefit various political campaigns, including Donald Trump’s US presidential campaign in 2016.

The IT ministry letter seeks clarity from Facebook on whether personal data of Indian voters and users has been compromised by Cambridge Analytica or any other entity in any manner.

The government has also sought to know specific steps proposed to be taken by Facebook to prevent misuse of personal data for potential interference in, or manipulation of the Indian electoral process.

As of January, there were around 250 million Facebook users in India —the largest in any country. The letter also sought details of measures “taken to ensure the safety, security and privacy of such large user data and to prevent its misuse by any third party."

According to a statement by the ministry, the was sent out as the government feels “there is need for further information about the data breach from Facebook."

According to PTI, Facebook on Wednesday said it will overhaul its privacy settings tools to put users “more in control" of their information on the social media website. The updates include improved access to Facebook’s user settings and tools to easily search for, download and delete personal data stored by Facebook. A new privacy shortcuts menu will allow users to quickly increase account security, manage who can see their information and activity on the site and control advertisements they see.

On 21 March, Union minister for law and information technology Ravi Shankar Prasad warned Facebook of stringent legal action if it was found misusing data on Indians. He said its chief executive officer Mark Zuckerberg can be summoned to India if required.

Last week, the government sent a notice to London-based analytics firm, Cambridge Analytica, the centre of the Facebook data breach controversy, seeking response on issues related to data of Indians collected by the firm or its intermediaries or associates. The government had sent six questions to the company and sought its response by 31 March, failing which it may take legal action, the IT ministry said.

The government has been pushing to secure the data of Indian citizens, especially those on social media. On 22 March, Prasad met top officials of the IT ministry to discuss the long-term strategy to secure such data.

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