The CBI has approached Facebook and Cambridge Analytica seeking additional information following their responses to its queries related to alleged illegal personal data harvesting of Indians from the social networking platform, officials said Wednesday. The agency officials said the CBI had received responses to its queries from both the companies but it needed more details from them on some specific questions.
The officials refused to divulge further details on this communication as the inquiry is at a crucial stage where the CBI will take a call on whether to proceed further with an FIR, they said. In the letters sent to the companies, the Central Bureau of Investigation (CBI) has sought the details of data collection exercise adopted by them, they said.
After referencing from the Centre, the investigative agency had initiated a preliminary enquiry against Cambridge Analytica and Global Science Research last year over the alleged user data theft. It is alleged that Cambridge Analytica received data from Global Science Research which employed "illegal means" of personal data harvesting of Indians using Facebook, they said. Facebook has over 20 crore users in India.
A preliminary enquiry is the first step to decide whether the allegations deserve a full-blown investigation through an FIR or not, they said. Data mining and analysis firm Cambridge Analytica earlier faced allegations that it used personal information harvested from 87 million Facebook accounts to help Donald Trump win the 2016 US presidential election. Union Law and IT Minister Ravi Shankar Prasad had told Rajya Sabha in July last year that the probe will be handed over to the CBI.
(With inputs from agencies.)