NaMo app does not share data with any third-party service: BJP IT cell head Amit Malviya

BJP IT cell head Amit Malviya says Rahul Gandhi is factually incorrect as the NaMo app is managed by the BJP, not the government.

india Updated: Mar 27, 2018 07:47 IST
Smriti Kak Ramachandran
Smriti Kak Ramachandran
Hindustan Times, New Delhi
NaMo app,Amit Malviya,WithINC App
BJP IT cell head Amit Malviya (HT Photo)

The BJP has rejected the Congress’s allegations that the NaMo app shares user data with third-party vendors. Amit Malviya, who heads the party’s IT cell, told Hindustan Times that safeguarding data lies at the core of its social media policy. Excerpts:

Congress president Rahul Gandhi has alleged that the NaMo app secretly records audio, video and other data, and even tracks location via GPS. Concerns over data sharing have also been raised by a French security analyst. How do you respond to these allegations?

Rahul Gandhi is a technology dinosaur. He said that connecting MRI machines will bring about a healthcare revolution. Tomorrow, Rahul Gandhi will tweet that the NaMo app is connected to EVM machines, and EVM tampering happens through it. His charges are ridiculous, and not even in the realm of technology. The concerns expressed by the French analyst have been addressed. No data has been shared with any third-party vendor. People have downloaded the NaMo app of their own volition. They can even access it in ‘guest mode’, without giving any permission or sharing data.

Gandhi has also alleged that Modi is misusing his position to build a personal database on billions of Indians via the NaMo app, which is promoted by the government.

He is factually incorrect. The NaMo app is managed by the BJP, not the government. What is wrong if he has unprecedented popularity, and billions follow and interact with him through his app?

You have been quoted as saying that data shared from the app (with a third party) is “contextual and cause-specific”, and for analytics. Would you explain to users in what context is sharing of data allowed? How is it different from the data mining and harvesting done by Cambridge Analytica?

No data has been shared with any third-party service. The analytical tool merely studies user behaviour and surfing patterns; it does not have access to user data. For instance, a person who looks up content related to agriculture will get agriculture-related content. Cambridge Analytica was using data surreptitiously; it was stealing user data under a pretext other than political. It manipulated the political understanding of the user, which is illegal and immoral.

On Twitter, you accused the Congress of illegally sharing user data with third parties. You alleged data are stored in Singaporean servers.

These are not mere allegations. They have been substantiated by screenshots of their website and apps that show how data is remitted and stored in Singapore. Their privacy policy is scary. When the Congress says they will share your data with like-minded groups, the implications are grave. It could be anybody from urban Maoists to Bharat Ke Tukde gang.

How do you explain seeking data from the NCC cadets?

There is no compulsion on the cadets to download the app. It is just the fastest and convenient way of connecting with the PM.

Do you have a code of ethics that binds your social media policy? What gatekeeping measures do you put while designing an app?

Our code of conduct is well-defined and available for everybody to see on our website. Being a political party, we don’t dissuade people from joining and engaging. Whether you choose to comment or leave your data behind, we will ensure that it is protected. We have gone to the extent of saying that our vendors are bound by our code of conduct. For instance, if you make an online payment for our monthly journals or request membership, the vendor responsible for the gateway will have to adhere to the party’s code of conduct.

First Published: Mar 27, 2018 07:47 IST