Will Rahul Gandhi Answer These Six Questions On Congress’ #AppWapasi?

Will Rahul Gandhi Answer These Six Questions On Congress’ #AppWapasi?

by Anurag Dixit - Mar 29, 2018 04:17 PM +05:30 IST
Will Rahul Gandhi Answer These Six Questions On Congress’ #AppWapasi?Congress President Rahul Gandhi (Arvind Yadav/Hindustan Times via Getty Images)
  • Rahul Gandhi accused Prime Minister Modi of stealing the personal data of five million users from his personal NaMo app.

    Accusations aside, there are some questions that Gandhi and the Congress party spokespersons have kept away from, for obvious reasons.

Last Sunday (25 March), Congress president Rahul Gandhi created a storm in a teacup by accusing Prime Minister Narendra Modi of stealing the personal data of five million users from his personal NaMo app. This allegation was supposedly based on the discoveries made by an otherwise unknown French ethical hacker who goes by the nom de guerre of Elliot Alderson, a character from the television series Mr. Robot.

Gandhi’s tweet on the matter was sensational and quickly picked up by media and turned into the theatre of the absurd. Congress spokespersons kept making accusations, but avoided answering these six questions – because if they did respond, they would know that they and their agenda both would be exposed to the public.

1. Alderson, who claims to be a French citizen, appears to be a bug bounty hunter, going by his tweets. A bug bounty hunter is someone who will discover a security-related bug and then sell that information to the concerned company at a price. It turns out that most of the bug bounty claims and vulnerability assessments by him are of Indian companies and wwebsites. Why would the president of the second-largest political party in India accuse the Prime Minister without verifying the claims made by an anonymous bug bounty hunter?

2. Even if we, for a moment, accept the claims made by Alderson, what do these claims imply? They were mostly about the app not meeting the General Data Protection Regulation (GDPR) of Europe and not that of any actual data theft that happened using the app. Did Gandhi and his team intentionally lie to make the accusations sound more sensational?

3. GDPR as a law was approved by the European parliament in April 2016 and does not have jurisdiction in India. If data theft actually took place, then why did Gandhi not file a criminal complaint under Section 72 of IT Act, 2000, which could have ensured a jail term of up to two years for the party involved?

4. The advent of social media happened around 2004. Why did the Congress, which was in government for 10 years, not bring amendments to reinforce or strengthen privacy laws, and instead opted to introduce a draconian amendment of Section 66A of the IT Act that allowed the victimisation of unfavourable social media comments?

5. What was the hurry that the Congress party and its spokespersons decided not to verify the origins and business model of ClearTap before dragging the company in the controversy? Is it okay for the party and Gandhi to sabotage a legal enterprise for the sake of political opportunism?

6. Did Gandhi not realise that by creating panic about data security and privacy breach, he is unintentionally (or maybe intentionally) casting aspersions on the growing digital economy in India? Does he not realise that his comments could create public distrust of consumer apps, which in turn could have a negative impact on the employment of lakhs of people in e-commerce and cab aggregator sectors?

All in all, it seems that in a hurry to capitalise on an opportunity to smear the Prime Minister, the Congress party, its president, Gandhi, and their allies have clearly ignored or overlooked facts. They have not just made unsubstantiated allegations, but in the process have willingly or unwillingly tried to jeopardise the digital economy and reputation of an innovative Indian startup.

To keep away from another social media disaster in the future, Gandhi and his team would do well to acquire some digital literacy.

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