On Wednesday, Union Law and IT Minister Ravi Shankar Prasad warned Facebook owner Mark Zuckerberg by name and said that any data leak relating to Indian users for political purposes in India would not be tolerated.
Prasad also alleged that Cambridge Analytica, which has been charged of leaking Facebook data for misuse during Trump's election in the US and Brexit referendum in the UK, was trying to fix a deal with Congress party for next year's Lok Sabha elections. The minister asked Congress to explain its connection with Cambridge Analytica, since it was "a serious security threat for the country".
Prasad said, "We welcome FB profile in India, but if any data theft of Indians is done through collusion of Facebook, it shall not be tolerated, and the government has stringent powers under the IT Act, which it shall use."
There are more than 200 crore Facebook users across the world, out of which more than 24 crore active users are in India. Twitter, WhatsApp and Instagram have become part of daily life for most Indians who use smartphones. Imagine what will happen if the data of such social media users are leaked out to interested parties. Social media, particularly Facebook and WhatsApp, has vital data relating to their users including their telephone numbers, their locations, their present and past profile, their contacts and even their social and political leanings.
Any political party would happily misuse such info about its voters, but if such data are passed on to third parties having malicious intent, the very essence of privacy will vanish. Anybody could be easily blackmailed or tracked.
Till now, social media was being blamed for circulating fake news and allegations, it was spreading rumours that could cause unrest in society, but Wednesday's revelations pose a greater risk. It is now time that the Centre must take strong steps to regulate social media.
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