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Privacy breach unacceptable: Govt notice to Cambridge Analytica over Facebook

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New Delhi: Cracking the whip on alleged misuse of user data on Facebook, the government issued a notice to UK-based Cambridge Analytica, asking it to give a list of clients and the source of data it had collected. The notice came after reports that political parties had used the data analytics firm during elections.
The IT Ministry has asked Cambridge Analytica – the firm at the centre of Facebook data breach scandal – to respond by March 31 on six questions, including how the company had collected user data, whether consent was taken from the individuals, and how the data was used.
The move assumes significance as the BJP, earlier this week, had questioned links between the Congress and Cambridge Analytica, the data mining firm accused of harvesting personal information from Facebook illegally to influence polls in several countries.
Taking a stern view of reports on the misuse of user data obtained from social media platform Facebook, the IT Ministry in a statement on Friday said “breach of privacy cannot be tolerated”.
“The government is deeply concerned about such developments and is committed to ensuring the protection of the fundamental right of privacy and safety and security of data for every citizen of India,” the ministry said.
The IT Ministry said it had issued a notice to Cambridge Analytica “wherein the serious breach of propriety and misuse of data intended to profile and influence voting behaviour has been highlighted”.
The notice comes just days after Law and IT Minister Ravi Shankar Prasad warned the social media giant Facebook of stringent action for any attempt to influence polls through data theft.
Prasad had even threatened to summon its CEO Mark Zuckerberg, if needed. “…the notice addressed to Cambridge Analytica seeks an immediate response to the following questions…Whether they have been engaged in any assignment to utilise data of Indians from the above-cited breach. Who are the entities that have engaged them for the above,” it said.
The ministry also questioned the company on how it had come to be in possession of user data and whether user consent had been taken for the same.
The company has also been asked to divulge details of how the data collected was used and whether any profiling was done on basis of such data.
“The intermediaries cited above have been given time till March 31, 2018, to submit their responses on the above issue,” the ministry said.
Referring to media reports of “gross abuse of social media platform to influence the sanctity of polling process”, the ministry said, “any attempt to influence the sanctity of the electoral franchise through dubious and questionable means is unacceptable”.
“In particular, all intermediaries and their associates have the legal obligation to maintain security, confidentiality and sanctity of data and any unauthorised use of data can entail legal action,” it warned.
The statement said that Indian Computer Emergency Response Team (CERT-In) has issued advisory laying down security best practices to be followed by social media users, to safeguard personally identifiable information on social network sites.


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National

Special judge seeks 6 months time from SC to conclude trial

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New Delhi: A special judge holding trial in Babri Masjid demolition case, involving BJP veterans L K Advani, M M Joshi and others, Monday moved the Supreme Court seeking six more months to conclude the trial in the case.

The special judge, in a letter written in May, has informed the top court that he is due to superannuate on September 30, 2019. The matter came up for hearing on Monday before a bench headed by Justice R F Nariman, which asked the Uttar Pradesh government to apprise it by July 19 about a mechanism by which the tenure of the special judge could be extended till he delivered the verdict in the high profile case.

On April 19, 2017, the top court had ordered day-to-day trial to be concluded in two years in the case.

 
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‘Won’t meet Kharge, Azad…’: Karnataka MLAs write to Mumbai police

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Bengaluru: The 14 rebel Karnataka MLAs, staying in Mumbai’s luxury hotel, have written to state police over an alleged ‘threat’ from senior Karnataka and Maharashtra Congress leaders, including Mallikarjun Kharge and Ghulam Nabi Azad.

“We’ve absolutely no intentions in meeting Mallikarjun Kharge, GN Azad or any Congress dignitaries from Maharashtra and Karnataka or any political leader as we anticipate serious threat from them,” MLAs wrote to senior police inspector, Mumbai’s Powai Police Station, according to ANI.

The rebels have been rebuffing efforts by the leaders of Karnataka’s JD(S)-Congress combine to reach out to them in a an effort to find a solution to the crisis triggered by the MLAs resigning on July 6 and then going incommunicado.

 

The coalition government, which has been wobbly since it came into being last year, is facing a serious crisis now with 16 MLAs – 13 of the Congress and three of the JD(S) – resigning from their Assembly membership.

Seeking protection, the rebel MLAs urged the police officer to make necessary arrangements to ensure that the leaders are not allowed to meet them.

“We the respected Members of Karnataka Assembly are currently staying at Renaissance Hotel Powai, would like to inform you that we have absolutely no intentions in meeting Shri Mallikarjun Kharge ji or Ghulam Nabi Azad ji or any Congress dignitaries or functionaries from Maharashtra and Karnataka Congress team leaders or any other political leaders. We anticipate serious threat from them. We hereby request you to kindly make necessary arrangements to stop these people from meeting us in case the situation arises,” the letter read.

Among the legislators who signed the letter are Shivram Hebbar, B.C. Patil, Mahesh K, Vishwanath, Muniratnam, Narayan Gowda, R Shankar, H Nagesh, Pratap Patil, Gopalaiah, Ramesh J, MTB Nagraj, Somshekar and Basavaraja.

Earlier last week, the rebel MLAs stonewalled Congress leader DK Shivakumar’s attempts to meet them. He was kept waiting for 5 hours outside the hotel and eventually detained by the Mumbai police.

On July 11, the dissident MLAs had returned to the hotel here after meeting Karnataka Assembly Speaker KR Ramesh Kumar in Bengaluru.

The development came after the Supreme Court had directed them to meet the Speaker and resubmit their resignations afresh. The top court had on July 12 ordered a status quo until July 16 on a plea filed by 10 dissident MLAs of Congress and JD(S) seeking a direction to the Assembly Speaker to accept their resignation and not proceed with the applications for their disqualification.

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Cleric beaten up in Baghpat for not chanting ‘Jai Sri Ram’

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New Delhi: A cleric in Baghpat has alleged that he was assaulted by a group of youth as he refused to chant ‘Jai Sri Ram’. According to the cleric, he was on his way to his home on a motorcycle when he was stopped by the miscreants.

The youth allegedly asked the cleric, Imlaur Rehman, to chant ‘Jai Sri Ram’, but when he refused to do the same, they started beating him up mercilessly. The cleric alleged that they even took off his skull cap and tried to pull his beard.

No one came to his rescue despite his cry for help. He somehow managed to escape the spot and reached to the police for help. The cops have initiated an inquiry into the case.

 

“I was going on my motorcycle when 10-12 people in a vehicle apprehended my bike. They asked me to chant ‘Jai Sri Ram’ and when I failed to comply, they started beating me up. They were carrying sharp weapons,” said the cleric.

“I ran to save my life and sought help from passers-by, but no one came to help me. There was no one at the police station when I reached there. Then I called my friend who helped me get in touch with concerned officials,” he added.

When his family members were informed about the incident, they reacted in anger and claimed that a handful of people were trying to disrupt communal harmony in the area. They said that strict action must be taken against such people.

Speaking to Zee News, the cleric’s brother called for action against the miscreants to forced him to chant ‘Jai Sri Ram’ and assaulted him. He further said that if justice was not delivered, they would ensured that a decision was taken at the panchayat level.

The police said that a case had been registered against 10-12 unidentified accused. The incident occurred between 5 and 5.30 pm on Sunday at a distance of 200 metres from Saror police station.

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