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IT minister Ravi Shankar Prasad warns Mark Zuckerberg, says can 'summon you' to India
National  
timesofindia

NEW DELHI: In a strong message, IT and Law Minister Ravi Shankar Prasad on Wednesday warned social media companies such as Facebook of "stringent action", if any attempt was made by them to influence the country's electoral process.

 

"...let me make it very, very clear, we fully support freedom of press, speech and expression; we fully support free exchange of ideas on social media. But any attempt, covert or overt, by social media, including Facebook, of trying to influence India's electoral process through undesirable means will neither be appreciated nor be tolerated," Prasad said.
 
"If need be, stringent action will be taken," the minister added.
 
Facebook is in the middle of a controversy over a potential breach of user confidentiality. It was reported that Cambridge Analytica, a London-based data consultancy firm, has allegedly been harvesting millions of Facebook users' personal data to unfairly influence election results.
 
Prasad cautioned the social media giant and its CEO Mark Zuckerberg of repercussions under IT Act in case any data breach came to light.
 
"Mr Mark Zuckerberg you better note the observation of the IT Minister of India. We welcome the FB profile in India, but if any data theft of Indians is done through the collusion of FB system, it shall not be tolerated. We have got stringent power in the IT Act, we shall use it, including summoning you in India," Prasad warned.
 
This is not the first standoff between Indian policymakers and Facebook. In 2016, TRAI (Telecom Regulatory Authority of India) had issued regulations on discriminatory pricing over internet access that had led to the ban of platforms like Facebook's Free Basics.
 
Asked if the government would initiate a probe on data use by Facebook, Prasad said that India had a regulator in the form of TRAI, and in case of any specific complaints, the same would be taken under a structured investigation.
 
"We have got very robust mechanism available, we will look into it. But today, this very stern observation I gave that let my warning be heard across the Atlantic far away in California," he said.
 

 
 


 
 


 
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