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Facebook responds to IT ministry's second notice on data theft; says corrective measures taken

Facebook responds to IT ministry's second notice on data theft; says corrective measures taken

Facebook said that the social media giant is grateful to the Indian government for giving it an opportunity to address concerns.

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In its response to the Ministry of Electronics and Information Technology's second notice to the social media giant, Facebook has said that a lot of corrective measures are being taken to stop data theft. It further said that they have been removing fake accounts and increasing ads transparency.

In March, the government in had sent a notice to Facebook asking whether the personal data of Indian voters and users were compromised by the UK-based Cambridge Analytica or any other downstream entity. A similar notice was sent to Cambridge Analytica following media reports that it had misused data to profile users and influence elections.

A spokesperson of Facebook said that the social media giant is grateful to the Indian government for giving it an opportunity to address concerns. "We are committed to protecting people's information and safeguarding the integrity of elections in India," the spokesperson said in an e-mail.

"We hope we have helped to answer important questions about the changes we have made to further protect users information as well as elections from abuse and exploitation including removing fake accounts, increasing ads transparency and reducing the spread of false news," the spokesperson further added.

The government had served a second set of notices to Cambridge Analytica and Facebook over the data breach issue late last month after finding discrepancies between the previous responses given by the two companies. The companies were asked to reply to the additional set of queries by May 10.

While Facebook sent in its response, British data analytics and political consulting firm Cambridge Analytica is yet to respond. An IT ministry official said that once both the responses are in and reviewed, a decision would be made.

Facebook has been facing intense scrutiny from its users as well as governments across the globe after a data leak scandal hit about 87 million users. Cambridge Analytica has been accused of harvesting personal information of millions of Facebook users illegally to help political campaigns and influence polls in several countries.

Earlier this month, however, Cambridge Analytica announced that it is shutting operations in a statement on its website and claimed it has been 'vilified' for activities that are legal and considered a standard component of online advertising.

Indian officials familiar with the line of questioning and notices sent in the data leak matter have previously maintained that the shutting down of Cambridge Analytica will not impact its ongoing probe as the liability of the company existed prior to the closure announcement.

(With PTI inputs)