India PM Modi app sparks social media furore

Indian PM Narendra Modi’s official mobile application has been criticised for sending personal user data to a third party without their consent.

A security researcher had tweeted that the app was sending personal user data to a third-party domain that was traced to a US company.

Mr Modi’s ruling Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) has denied the allegation.

The party said the data was being used only for analytics to offer all users the “most contextual content”.

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      The researcher, who tweets under the pseudonym Elliot Alderson, posted a series of tweets on Saturday stating Mr Modi’s app was sending personal user data to a third party.

      Skip Twitter post 2 by @fs0c131y

      After a quick search, this domain belongs to an American company called @CleverTap. According to their description, “#CleverTap is the next generation app engagement platform. It enables marketers to identify, engage and retain users and provides developers" pic.twitter.com/Ikqp9GbCDm

      — Elliot Alderson (@fs0c131y) March 23, 2018

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      End of Twitter post 2 by @fs0c131y

      Skip Twitter post 3 by @fs0c131y

      .@narendramodi, I know privacy is not your thing but any thoughts about sharing the personal data of your users without their consent to a third-party company?

      — Elliot Alderson (@fs0c131y) March 23, 2018

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      End of Twitter post 3 by @fs0c131y

      Rahul Gandhi, the chief of the the main opposition Congress party, took to Twitter on Sunday to criticise Mr Modi.

      Skip Twitter post by @RahulGandhi

      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.

      Ps. Thanks mainstream media, you're doing a great job of burying this critical story, as always.https://t.co/IZYzkuH1ZH

      — Rahul Gandhi (@RahulGandhi) March 25, 2018

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      End of Twitter post by @RahulGandhi

      The BJP responded swiftly, saying Mr Gandhi was trying to divert attention.

      Last week India’s law and IT minister Ravi Shankar Prasad said there were “numerous reports” of the Congress party’s connections with controversial data analytics firm Cambridge Analytica.

      He asked Mr Gandhi to “explain” the company’s role in his social media outreach.

      The opposition party has denied the charges.

      Cambridge Analytica is embroiled in a storm over claims it exploited the data of millions of Facebook users.

      Skip Twitter post by @BJP4India

      Rahul Gandhi is in sublime form these days. After MRI & NCC, today he exposes his great knowledge about technology. He is so rattled by the Cambridge Analyitca expose that he daily tries to divert attention from it, yesterday it was the judiciary and today it is Namo App.

      — BJP (@BJP4India) March 25, 2018

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      End of Twitter post by @BJP4India

      The party said the data from Mr Modi’s app was being used for analytics:

      Skip Twitter post 2 by @BJP4India

      This ensures that a user gets the best experience by showing content in his language & interests. A person who looks up agri-related info will get agri related content easily. A person from TN will get updates in Tamil and get an update about an important initiative about TN.

      — BJP (@BJP4India) March 25, 2018

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      End of Twitter post 2 by @BJP4India

      The security researcher later posted a new tweet on Sunday saying Mr Modi’s app had been “quietly” updated its privacy policy.

      Skip Twitter post 4 by @fs0c131y

      After the NaMo #android app exposé yesterday, the privacy policy of @narendramodi has been change quietly. The cached version is accessible here https://t.co/K7Uz5mUsR1

      — Elliot Alderson (@fs0c131y) March 25, 2018

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      End of Twitter post 4 by @fs0c131y

      Mr Modi launched his official app in 2015, adding another platform to his massive social media presence.

      He is among the five most popular politicians on Twitter with 41.4 million followers.