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Data breach row: Rahul Gandhi accuses PM Modi of misusing NaMo app, BJP calls him 'technologically illiterate'

The Congress had to take down its ‘WithINC' mobile app after the BJP alleged that the party had shared user data with a Singapore-based firm from its official app.

Reported by: Agencies, New Delhi [ Updated: March 27, 2018 7:42 IST ]
Congress president Rahul Gandhi and PM Narendra Modi.

Congress president Rahul Gandhi and PM Narendra Modi.

Congress President Rahul Gandhi today accused Prime Minister Narendra Modi of misusing his position to build personal database "with data on millions of Indians via the NaMo App promoted by the government".

Rahul went on to term PM Modi as the "Big Boss who likes to spy".

However, the Congress had to take down its ‘WithINC' mobile app, after the BJP alleged that his party had shared user data with a Singapore-based firm from its official app.

Later on, BJP spokesperson Sambit Patra alleged that Rahul Gandhi's allegations against PM Modi showed that it was a case of 'technological illetracy'.

​In a hard-hitting attack, Rahul alleged that NaMo App secretly records audio, video, contacts and even tracks location via GPS.

Gandhi said if the Prime Minister wants to use technology to communicate with people, he should use the official PMO app.

"Modi misusing PM position to build personal database with data on millions of Indians via the NaMo App promoted by Govt. If as PM he wants to use tech to communicate with India, no problem. But use the official PMO APP for it. This data belongs to India, not Modi," Gandhi said in a tweet. 

"Modi's NaMo App secretly records audio, video, contacts of your friends and family and even tracks your location via GPS. He's the Big Boss who likes to spy on Indians. Now he wants data on our children. 13 lakh NCC (National Cadet Corps) cadets are being forced to download the app," he added. 

Union Information and Broadcasting Minister Smriti Irani took a swipe at Congress President Rahul Gandhi over his allegations of PM Modi misusing NaMo app to build personal database.

“RahulGandhiji, even ‘Chhota Bheem’ knows that commonly asked permission on Apps don’t tantamount to snooping,” she said.

Irani tweeted to Gandhi, asking him if his team had misunderstood his demand to get Prime Minister Narendra Modi's "NaMo" app deleted and instead removed "WithINC" from the Google store.

"Ye kya Rahul Gandhi ji. It seems your team is doing the opposite of what you asked for. Instead of deleting NaMoApp, they have deleted the Congress App itself," Irani said, posting screen shots of the play store that shows the Congress app is not available.

She asked the Congress chief if he would care to answer "why Congress sends data to Singapore servers which can be accessed by any Tom, Dick and Analytica", referring to the British firm that was at the centre of a storm for illegally accessing Facebook user data for political purposes.

The minister's remarks came after the Congress described the allegations of its involvement in the data breach baseless.

The Congress said the "WithINC" app was being used for social media updates alone since transitioning the membership to the website.

"This morning, we were forced to remove the app from the Playstore as the wrong URL was being circulated and people were being misled. The "WithINC" app is a membership app and has not been in use for over five months since we moved membership to http://www.inc.in from 16th Nov 2017," the party said in a series of tweets.

Amid allegations and counter allegations, Gandhi also accused Modi of misusing his position to build a personal database with the data of millions of Indians via the NaMoApp promoted by the government.

"If as PM, he wants to use tech to communicate with India, no problem. But use the official PMO APP for it. This data belongs to India, not Modi," Gandhi said hitting out at Modi and the BJP after the ruling party accused the Congress of sharing users' data with a Singapore-based firm.

The Congress on Monday took down its ‘WithINC mobile app, saying it had been defunct for five months and emphasising that there was no breach of data through it.

Congress spokesman Abhishek Manu Singhvi said that the allegations of Congress collecting data through this app were the "half truth". 

"As is usual with the BJP, they did not tell you that the ‘WithINC' app had only 15,000 downloads. It had become defunct because our people do not like the ‘missed call' membership. Congressmen believe in physical or offline membership. In contrast the Narendra Modi app has had 50 lakh downloads," he said. 

Earlier, the Congress, on its official Twitter handle, said that the ‘WithINC' was only a membership app and had not been in use for over five months since the party moved membership to www.inc.in from November 16, 2017. 

"This morning we were forced to remove the app from the Google Playstore as the wrong URL was being circulated and people were being misled.

"The URL (http://membership.inc.in) quoted by the media is the defunct URL from the app," it said.

It said that the app was being used for "social media updates alone since transitioning the membership to the website". 

"There is no truth to this allegation. There has been no breach of data whatsoever," it said.

On Sunday, Congress President Rahul Gandhi alleged that the users' data collected through the Narendra Modi app was being shared with American companies. The Bharatiya Janata Party retaliated by pointing fingers towards the Congress app.

Classic case of technological illiteracy of Rahul Gandhi, says BJP

BJP spokesperson Sambit Patra also targeted Gandhi in a press conference and accused him of spreading lies.

"This is a classic case of technological illiteracy of Rahul Gandhi. Technologically he is very backward. Analytics is not equivalent to spying or snooping. Those technologically ignorant are trying to describe it as snooping and spying,"he said. 

He alleged that Congress was rattled by the Cambridge Ana"yitca "expose" and was trying everything to divert attention and to stop Prime Minister from communicating with others.

Stating that Congress chief "needs to brush" up his knowledge," Patra said it would be no wonder if Rahul Gandhi tweets tomorrow that NaMo App was connected to EVM machines. 

Accusing Siddaramaiah of using government money to run the 'Siddaramaiah App', Patra said: "Is it right to use public money for personal political branding? This is not only data theft but also robbery of public money." 

Congress spokesman Abhishek Manu Singhvi, who also addressed a press conference, said that the allegations of Congress collecting data through this app were the "half truth". 

"As is usual with the BJP, they did not tell you that the 'WithINC' app had only 15,000 downloads. It had become defunct because our people do not like the 'missed call' membership. Congressmen believe in physical or offline membership. In contrast the Narendra Modi app has had 50 lakh downloads," he said. 

The party also said there has been no breach of data whatsoever.

Earlier, Amit Malviya, who is incharge of BJP's Information and Technology wing, attached "screenshots" of the Congress' website privacy policy listings to attack the party. 

"Hi! My name is Rahul Gandhi. I am the President of India's oldest political party. When you sign up for our official Application, I give all your data to my friends in Singapore," one said. 

Congress social media chief Divya Spandana hit back. "Forget sharing, we don't collect any data through the App. What a dimwit," she said, referring to Malviya's tweet. 

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