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Tek Fog: Parliamentary Committee on Home Affairs seeks response from Home Ministry

The committee’s chairperson faces pressure to deliberate the secretive app and its reported features in the next meeting.

The Parliamentary Standing Committee on Home Affairs headed by Congress leader Anand Sharma has written to the Union Home Secretary seeking a response from the Home Ministry and other concerned Ministries on the allegations around the Tek Fog app by January 20, The Hindu reported on January 12. The Committee plans to hold a discussion once a response is received, the report added. Last week, an investigation by The Wire uncovered an alarmingly sophisticated app that can be used to manipulate Twitter and Facebook trends, hijack inactive WhatsApp accounts and spread propaganda, and target automated hate content towards specific groups of people. Most crucially, the investigation alleges that the app has strong ties to the ruling BJP party. Taking note of these allegations, Rajya Sabha MP Derek O’Brien wrote a letter urging the chairperson of the Standing Committee to take up the issue in the Committee’s next meeting. Congress MP Adhir Ranjan Chowdhury is also said to have written to Sharma asking for the same.  "The existence and usage of manipulative technologies like Tek Fog is a severe danger to national and citizens’ security, a violation of our Fundamental Rights to Privacy and Free Speech, an exploitation of public discourse, and a defilement of the country's democracy and security." – MP Derek O’Brien What can Tek Fog do? O’Brien, referring to The Wire article, said that the app can do the following: Hijack Facebook and Twitter trends: O’Brien said that these sections, which usually contain organically popular conversations on the platforms based on the number…

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