Unquestionably Facebook amid the chaos of Anti-Trust investigations by the US panel alongside its tech contemporaries settle on the grounds that if you have a genius, you must suffer the penalty of being genius because genius brings power, an immense power which could uncontrollably over power elements and enterprises of significant importance. When tech giant Facebook in 2017 offered its help to the Election Commission of India to register its first- time voters for free, the question which has clicked our mind was, why?
The answer is simple, this partnership with the Election Commission might have helped Facebook to create a mammoth of data storage and potentiality to manipulate market regulations. Huge, priceless and confidential information of the first time voters, so that it could further be sold by Facebook to political parties of India at a high price. How Facebook’s involvement in the Indian political system could construct a massive gateway for data collection and its misuse?
How this partnership could mislead the voters and tarnish the transparency in the electoral system of our country?
Let’s take an explanation of an example, as it is all about who is paying what and how much to buy confidential information of the first time voters or voters in general then its obvious that parties with huge sum of funds and widespread global influence could buy data, more data as compared with the parties with lesser funds. For instance, if a party is planning to contest the Lok Sabha Elections then in order to target widespread voters with different such fields includes caste, interests, class, age, income background, qualifications, political interests etc. you need their (voters) complete database to construct your framework and strategies to win elections. So, if political parties get access to all these informations then for them to be able to strike out a perfect balance between their campaigning and votes per constituencies is not a rocket science. Party with the highest number of first time voter’s data is in ultimate advantage over its rival parties.
Data collected can be for use as well as misuse… examples shows Facebook done it well.
Recalling Facebook India Head Ankhi Das’s resignation followed by The Wall Street Journal’s allegations on the tech giant of removing Anti-Muslim posts by a lawmaker from the Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP), going easy on ruling party supporters who repeatedly violated company’s hate speech policy and supporting BJP during Lok Sabha Elections 2014 & 2019 by manipulating company’s terms and conditions. Also recalling in addition to the above mentioned case, Facebook-Cambridge Analytica Data Scandal which was reportedly happened in 2018. Revelations were considerably serious on Cambridge Analytica which came into the picture with the acquisition of 50 million Facebook users data and helping US President Donald Trump in Presidential Elections using the acquired data mentioned above for political advertisement targeting and campaigning without even seeking permission of all those users.
Looking into the Cambridge Analytica scandal though Facebook clarified on data breach and claimed the suspended services of Cambridge Analytica yet it didn’t show any impact as the allegations on Facebook continued to rise after that. Indian Government had asked for Facebook’s clarification on data breach and asked CBI to look into this matter nevertheless, it brought no significant improvement and no official statement to date.
Why considering Cambridge Analytica case? Is it EC Facebook deal interconnected with it?
Multiple sources of trusted media houses in India through their well researched journalism and RTI Infortainment interestingly found absolutely no evidence where The Election Commission had once ensured the safety of voter’s confidential information under the custody of Facebook. Questions on how Facebook will protect the information of Indian voters? Will it be selling or sharing it to any third party, if yes then on what terms? What precautionary measures do Facebook have against data breach? were still remain unanswered because were never raised. Those who had asked and continue to ask these questions are still in anonymity.
Well, I raise a simple question as a dignified voter of this country that is it safe to provide full access of our confidential information (without permission) to a company, which is powerful enough to sell or share it to a third party without any necessary measures taken by the Election Commission? And despite Cambridge Analytica data breach controversy, what lesson did EC learn from it and if learnt then why opted for Facebook as its partner? Facebook’s India executives have been already indulged and grilled by the parliamentary committee over several serious allegations of political partisanship, hate speech and data breach yet partnering with with them on ‘no safety’ grounds seems a bit unfair to users and had a sniff of unaccountability in the process. Did EC had appointed any cross check mechanism for Facebook to see if the protocols are being followed? Facebook is anyway not answerable to us, as it has partnered with EC in India, so EC and more appropriately Government of India is being accountable for every voter’s quest to know the truth.