MUMBAI (Reuters) – Allegations that Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s official mobile application was sending personal user data to a third party without their consent caused a furor on social media in India and drew criticism from the leader of the main opposition party on Sunday.
Modi’s ruling Bharatiya Janata Party denied https://twitter.com/BJP4India/status/977811651989680128 the allegations and said the data was being used only for analytics to offer all users the “most contextual content”.
A security researcher, who has previously highlighted some vulnerabilities in India’s national identity card project and who tweets under the pseudonym Elliot Alderson, posted https://twitter.com/fs0c131y/status/977267255309463554 a series of tweets on Saturday stating the app was sending personal user data to a third-party domain that was traced to an American company.
The tweets, which come at a time of heightened sensitivity around the alleged misuse of personal data amid the unfolding Facebook-Cambridge Analytica controversy https://www.reuters.com/article/us-facebook-cambridge-analytica-apology/…, triggered a stir in India on social media.
“Hi! My name is Narendra Modi. I am India’s Prime Minister. When you sign up for my official App, I give all your data to my friends in American companies,” wrote https://twitter.com/RahulGandhi/status/977778259810226177 opposition Congress Party Chief Rahul Gandhi in a Twitter message on Sunday.
The BJP quickly responded on Twitter, saying Gandhi was trying to divert attention. The BJP has accused the Congress of engaging Cambridge Analytica in India, a charge the opposition party has denied.
Reuters could not independently verify Alderson’s claim.
Prime Minister Modi has not commented on the issue.
BJP said the app – which has seen about 5 million downloads on the Google Android Play Store – allows users access even in a guest mode that does not require them to grant any permissions.
“The permissions required are all … cause-specific,” the BJP tweeted.
(Reporting by Devidutta Tripathy; Editing by Euan Rocha and David Evans)