Social media platforms won't be allowed to abuse election process, says Ravi Shankar Prasad

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New Delhi:

Social media platforms will never be allowed to abuse the election process for extraneous means and India has taken “serious note” of reported data misuse of such platforms, Union Information Technology (IT) Minister Ravi Shankar Prasad told a gathering of ministers from G-20 nations, according to an official statement.

Prasad, addressing the plenary of the G-20 Digital Economy Ministerial meeting in Salata, Argentina, on August 23-24, 2018, emphasised that the purity of democratic process should never be compromised and promised that India will take measures to deter and punish those who seek to vitiate the process, the IT ministry said in a statement on Sunday.

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The IT minister’s remarks came after the Central Bureau of Investigation (CBI) initiated a preliminary enquiry against British political consultancy firm Cambridge Analytica for alleged illegal personal data harvesting of Indians from Facebook.

Meanwhile, speaking at the G-20 event, Prasad also proposed that a part of revenue generated by digital platforms need to be reinvested in host markets.

The IT minister said that the borderless nature of cyber world posed limitless potential for trade and commerce but only a safe and secure cyberspace can yield benefits of digital transformation for the global economy.

Prasad also told the G-20 meeting that India was taking all possible steps to make the cyberspace safe.

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In his address, the IT minister said, “Privacy cannot prohibit innovation nor can privacy become the shield for the corrupt or terrorists. We need data to improve business but the data must be anonymous, objective, and taken with consent”, according to the statement.

Prasad noted that the Supreme Court, while upholding the right to privacy has also elaborated these aspects and hence a fine balance needs to be struck between data availability, innovation, anonymity and privacy.

“India’s digital infrastructure is powered by 1.21 billion mobile phones (including 450 million smartphones), nearly 500 million internet subscribers and broadband availability,” according to the statement.

(With inputs from agencies)

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