On Sunday, Mr. Rahul Gandhi raised a controversy by alleging that NaMo app is stealing user data and sending it to servers of american company so that it can be used for influencing the 2019 elections. These allegations appeared ridiculous to technologically aware people; while some laughed them off, others including yours truly tried to explain why they were ridiculous. Some tried explaining how the social APIs work, while others explained how web and app analytics event tokens are exchanged between servers.
I was invited to a debate on a Hindi news channel and I went there with the objective that I will try and explain how things work. After listening to the allegations of Congress spokesperson Mrs. Priyanka Chaturvedi, where she tried to create panic about Aadhar along with NaMo app, it struck me that Congress has a larger and more malicious agenda behind these allegations. It is not trying to score a “gotcha” point over the prime minister, but it is far more insidious.
According to a 2017 McKinsey study, sectors like cab hailing platforms, E-commerce, digital lending through Fintech firms has positively impacted the income of 18 to 22 million people in last three years.
According to an HSBC report in 2016, by 2020, there will be 50 lakhs jobs created in warehousing, delivery and logistics in e-commerce.
According to a statistics site named Statista, Uber and Ola had employed 8 lakh drivers as of July 2016 and this number has been increasing ever since.
Number of broadband users and bandwidth usage in India is at all time high, lakhs of students are consuming free educational content from apps from Khan academy etc.
All these apps use similar services, social logins and analytics to provide better user experience and security to their users like NaMo app. While NaMo app has 5 million users, these apps and websites support a far greater number of users and more importantly provide employments to lakhs of people. What will be the impact of panic created by Shri Rahul Gandhi on them? Won’t they lose trust, users and revenue because of it? Will they be able to provide the same level of employment, if their businesses get eroded by these allegations? Will it not shake up the confidence of young students accessing portals to learn new things?
This questions made me think about what can be the ulterior motive of Mr. Rahul Gandhi when he made these allegations? Does he want to derail the Digital India initiative? Does he want to slow down the fast growing digital economy of India? Is it because a digitally empowered India doesn’t suit his “politics of poverty”?
These are the questions, Mr. Rahul Gandhi must answer. These are the questions TV anchors and journalists should ask to all the panelists who have suddenly turned into data security experts and are trying to amplify Mr. Gandhi’s allegations. Till we get satisfactory answers to these questions, it looks like another attempt to sabotage a development story for ulterior political motives.
Writer : @bhootnath