The war of words between the Congress and the BJP on data sharing spiralled today with Rahul Gandhi dubbing Prime Minister Narendra Modi the "Big Boss who likes to spy on Indians" and Union minister Smriti Irani saying even 'Chhota Bheem' knows it is not snooping.
Twitter was the battleground as the debate on the prickly issue escalated and the ruling BJP accused the opposition Congress of data "theft", saying it had taken off its app after the allegations came out in the open. The Congress, however, claimed it had not done so. The site was "dysfunctional" and all memberships were done through the party's official website, it said.
Taking to Twitter after allegations surfaced that data from the prime minister's official app was being shared without the consent of users, Congress president Rahul Gandhi said the prime minister was misusing his position and the NaMo app secretly recorded audio, video and contacts. "Modi's NaMo App secretly records audio, video, contacts of your friends and family and even tracks your location via GPS. He's the Big Boss who likes to spy on Indians.
"Now he wants data on our children. 13 lakh NCC cadets are being forced to download the APP," Gandhi said on Twitter using the hashtag "DeleteNaMoApp". He added that Modi was misusing his position to build a personal database with data on millions of Indians via the NaMo App promoted by the government. "If as PM he wants to use tech to communicate with India, no problem. But use the official PMO APP for it. This data belongs to India, not Modi," Gandhi said.
Irani hit back with a series of derisive tweets, saying that Gandhi now knows what the NCC thanks to the NaMo app. "RahulGandhi ji, even ‘Chhota Bheem' knows that commonly asked permission on Apps don't tantamount to snooping," she said, recalling the character from the animated series for children. "Ye kya RahulGandhi ji it seems your team is doing the opposite of what you asked for. Instead of #DeleteNaMoApp, they have deleted the Congress App itself."
"Now that we're talking tech, would you care to answer @RahulGandhi ji why Congress sends data to Singapore Servers which can be accessed by any Tom, Dick and Analytica?" the information and broadcasting minister added. According to BJP's IT cell in-charge Amit Malviya, the INC membership website is no longer available. "Message you will get 'We are incorporating minor changes to the website. Please visit us again in a while to access the INC membership process...' What is the Congress party trying to hide? http://membership.inc.in," Malviya tweeted.
Congress social media in-charge Divya Spandana Ramya said the URL pointed out has been dysfunctional for a while and membership is through the INC website. "We don't have any other membership site. Nothing is compromised...We haven't taken down anything," she said. The Congress added on its official Twitter handle that the 'WithINC app' has not been in use for over five months since it moved membership to http://www.inc.in on November 16, 2017. Malviya echoed Irani, saying the Congress app was sharing user data with Gandhi's friends in Singapore.
"Hi! My name is Rahul Gandhi. I am the President of India's oldest political party. When you sign up for our official App, I give all your data to my friends in Singapore," Malviya said, mimicking Gandhi's tweet yesterday. "Full marks to Congress for stating upfront that they'll give your data to **practically anyone** - undisclosed vendors, unknown volunteers, even 'groups with similar causes'. In theft of all forms, Congress has never been discreet!" Malviya tweeted.
Malviya went on to allege that the Congress, inspired by its leader Sonia Gandhi's "all power no accountability", will take all your data, even share it worldwide with organisations like Cambridge Analytica but will not take responsibility of it. The party claimed yesterday that the Narendra Modi app is unique and gives access to users in ‘guest mode' without any permission or data.
The Congress chief had yesterday attacked Modi over allegations of data sharing from his official app without users' consent. His attack on the prime minister was based on a media report in which a French vigilante hacker alleged that data was stolen from his official NaMo app without the consent of the users. "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,” Gandhi said.