Million Dollar question – which political party got hired help from Cambridge Analytica (CA)

Million Dollar question – which political party got hired help from Cambridge Analytica (CA)

Million Dollar question – which political party got hired help from Cambridge Analytica (CA)

The million-dollar question doing the rounds of the political circles in India is which of the political parties were in touch with the tainted political ‘consultant’ Cambridge Analytica (CA).

Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) accuses the Indian National Congress of having links with Cambridge Analytica (CA)

The Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) accuses the Indian National Congress of having links with Cambridge Analytica (CA) consultancy. Ravi Shankar Prasad of BJP claims that the Congress committed data theft and were engaged in manipulating of data for election purposes. He also raised questions about the presence and activities of Cambridge Analytica in the social media management of Rahu Gandhi.

“Will the Congress Party now depend upon data manipulation and data theft to win elections?” Ravi Shankar Prasad asked in a press conference.

 

Data Manipulation and data theft to win elections?

Cambridge Analytica data analytics firm, accused of misusing personal data of 50 million Facebook users in the U.S

Earlier, there were multiple media reports about Rahul Gandhi appointing the now tainted data analytics firm, accused of misusing personal data of 50 million Facebook users in the U.S. during the 2016 Presidential elections in the USA, for spearheading the election fight against Modi with a special focus on the social media. The mandate was to generate a significant amount of positive online buzz in favor of the Congress. This formed the basis of Shankar’s comments.

Election Commission must investigate the allegations against the Congress

The Election Commission “should enquire/recommend (an) investigation (into) what services & to whom they were offering” these services in India, tweeted Manish Tiwari of the Congress.

There is, however, inadequate information in the public domain to be able to independently verify these accusations.
This is, however, a complex web where Cambridge AnalyticaStrategic Communications Laboratories (SCL) the parent company, and multiple subsidiaries are entwined and hence the actual picture about the operations of the company in India is very unclear.

Facebook CEO Mark Zuckerberg posted about the whole controversy with Cambridge Analytica and their misuse of Facebook Data

BJP, Congress past clients of Cambridge Analytica?

The official website of Cambridge Analytica, however, confirms that the company had been associated with an India political party or parties during the Bihar Assembly elections of 2010.

Strategic Communications Laboratories (SCL) is the parent company of CA.

Cambridge Analytica and Strategic Communications Laboratories (SCL)

Cambridge Analytica and Strategic Communications Laboratories (SCL)

While there is no obvious direct India connection of the parent firm – at least on the web, a separate company called Oyleno Business Intelligence (OBI) has claimed on its website that is a part of an Indian joint venture called SCL India. According to the website data, this joint venture is with the SCL Group of London.

“Political campaign management” is what the company works on according to the website of Oyleno Business Intelligence (OBI). The BJP, the Congress, the JD (U), ICICI Bank, and Airtel have been listed as its clients. These claims by the company are however unverified.

While not clarifying the Indian political party it had worked with in India, the CA website, however, leaves a few hints. It says that it was evaluating “electoral apathy” in the state (Bihar) which was the outcome of “the poor and unchanging condition of the state after 15 years of incumbent rule”.

And it was Lalu Prasad Yadav who had ruled Bihar for 15 years – either himself or through his wife.

The JD(U) had won the 2010 assembly elections even though Cambridge Analytica was hired by a political party.

CA ‘consulted’ with someone during elections in India, said the British TV channel Channel 4 TV network. The report of CA misusing 50 million users’ private data during the 2016 U.S. presidential election was first aired on this channel.

CA “executives boasted (to its reporters) that Cambridge Analytica and its parent company Strategic Communications Laboratories (SCL) had worked in more than two hundred elections across the world, including Nigeria, Kenya, the Czech Republic, India, and Argentina”, says the TV channel’s investigation.

The website of OBI bears pictures of Prime Minister Narendra Modi and Aam Aadmi Party chief Arvind Kejriwal even though it does not have AAP on its client list.