56 lakh in India may have been hit by data leak says Facebook government awaits Cambridge Analyticas

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New Delhi: Facebook data of over 5.62 lakh Indians may have been compromised, the US social media giant has said. Facebook has said that the UK-based Cambridge Analytica pilfered the data through an app. 

Meanwhile, the government has said its action in the data leak case will depend on the response Cambridge Analytica submits to its notice. Facebook has sent a formal response to the questions the Indian government had raised on the issue.

A Facebook spokesperson said privileged data of users who had downloaded the app called 'thisisyourdigitallife', developed by Dr Aleksandr Kogan, may have been compromised. There are about 200 million Facebook users in the country. Of them, "only 335 people" in India were directly affected by the installation of the app, while another 5,62,120 people were "potentially affected" as friends of those users, he added, PTI reported.

"Cambridge Analytica's acquisition of Facebook data through the app developed by Dr Aleksandr Kogan and his company Global Science Research Limited (GSR) happened without our authorisation and was an explicit violation of our Platform policies," the spokesperson further said.

PTI quoted a government source as saying on Thursday that Facebook's reply has been received and the same is being examined. However, a final call in the matter will be taken only after Cambridge Analytica sends its response.

Cambridge Analytica, the data mining firm at the centre of the controversy, has time until April 7 to send its response to the government. The firm has been accused of harvesting personal information of millions of Facebook users illegally to influence polls in several countries.

In its response, Facebook has asserted that it had "at no time" agreed to Cambridge Analytica's use of any user data - including those in India. Also on April 9, Facebook will provide a link at the top of users' News Feed, offering information on apps that people use and the data they have shared with such apps.

It will also tell people if their information may have been improperly shared with Analytica. Facebook said the total number of potentially impacted users (5,62,455 people) is 0.6 percent of the global number of potentially affected people. The profiling app was installed by 335 people in India, which is estimated to be 0.1 percent of the app's total worldwide installs.

Cambridge Analytica has been accused of harvesting personal information of millions of Facebook users illegally to influence polls in several countries.

On Wednesday, Facebook's chief technology officer Mike Schroepfer had announced that personal data on as many as 87 million of its users was improperly shared with Cambridge Analytica, far greater than the 50 million previously estimated.

"In total, we believe the Facebook information of up to 87 million people - mostly in the US - may have been improperly shared with Cambridge Analytica," he had said, AFP reported.

Schroepfer had also said that new tools would be available to users to better understand privacy and data sharing. The changes are expected to tighten how outside parties can access user data and research members of Facebook.

One change, according to him, will eliminate the ability to enter a person's phone number or email address to locate someone with Facebook search. The feature "has been especially useful for finding your friends in languages which take more effort to type out a full name, or where many people have the same name," Schroepfer said.

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