See More on Facebook

Analysis, Politics

Asian nations wary after Cambridge Analytica revelations

Revelations that data mining firm Cambridge Analytica used Facebook data to help its clients in election campaigning has Asian nations concerned.


Written by

Updated: March 22, 2018

While the United States drags its feet on the latest revelations from Cambridge Analytica, political parties across Asia have come out to disavow any links between the data mining firm and their electoral success.

India’s main opposition Congress party said that neither the party nor party president Rahul Gandhi has ever hired the services of the beleaguered company.

Union Law Minister Ravi Shankar Prasad had questioned links between Congress and the company following media reports about the party’s plans to use the firm’s services next year’s elections.

“Will the Congress Party now depend upon data manipulation and data theft to win elections?” Prasad said, according to the Statesman.

Prasad insinuated that Gandhi’s twitter followers were artificially boosted by the firm, a charge the Congress Party denies.

Cambridge Analytica stated on its website that it had supported Malaysia’s ruling Barisan Nasional (BN) in Kedah province resulted in the BN coalition wresting Kedah back from then opposition coalition Pakatan Rakyat in 2013.

The Najib Razak administration said on Tuesday that Cambridge Analytica had not been contracted, employed or paid in any way by BN, the Prime Minister’s Office or any part of the government of Malaysia.

A statement issued by the Prime Minister’s Office said any services were provided personally to former BN leader turned opposition politician Mukhriz Mahathir. A former media officer to Mr Mukhriz backed the claim.

“The 2013 election advice for Kedah was provided to Mukhriz personally,” Mr Azrin Zizal said in a statement yesterday.

Mr Azrin, the South-East Asia head of SCL group, Cambridge Analytica’s parent company, claimed that he had worked with Mr Mukhriz personally and provided communications and strategy advice for him until 2015, reported The Star newspaper.

Mr Mukhriz, a former menteri besar of Kedah who is now vice-president of Malay nationalist party Parti Pribumi Bersatu Malaysia, denies ever working with Cambridge Analytica.

More trouble ahead; push back

Editorials in several Asian newspapers pointed to the use of Cambridge Analytica across Asia and said that the scandal wouldn’t deter the company or other similar companies from being employed in future campaigns.

An editorial in the Nation Newspaper said that “it is highly likely that Thailand will see the use of voter profiling through social media in the next general election.”

The Nation cited cyber-security researcher Bhume Bhumiratana who said that the profiling of social media users was nothing new as marketing firms have been doing it for some time.

According to Bhume, it wasn’t a stretch for marketing firms to use the data mined in previous work to target specific sections of the electorate before going to say that for many Facebook users, their data was already likely collected by various apps.

“There is a high likelihood these apps will use our personal data in the wrong way,” Bhume said.

Arthit Suriyawongkul, coordinator of Thai Netizen Network, a leading non-profit campaign that advocates digital rights and liberties, said that profiling could be done easily in Thailand as the country still has no law that protects personal data in general.

However, he saw nothing wrong with political parties campaigning about what their prospective voters want to hear, unless the database is misused or illegally obtained. “There should be no problem if the parties can keep their promises,” he added.

He said he was more concerned that this issue could be used by the Election Commission or the National Broadcast and Telecommunications Commission as a reason for tighter control of social media.

In India, politicians warned social media platforms of repercussions if the platforms were used to influence the country’s electoral process through undesirable means.

Minister Ravi Shankar Prasad said that any attempt by social media sites, including Facebook, to influence India’s electoral process through undesirable means will not be tolerated, he told reporters in Parliament House complex.

“If need be, strong action will be taken,” he said.



Enjoyed this story? Share it.


Cod Satrusayang
About the Author: Cod Satrusayang is the Managing Editor at Asia News Network.

Eastern Briefings

All you need to know about Asia


Our Eastern Briefings Newsletter presents curated stories from 22 Asian newspapers from South, Southeast and Northeast Asia.

Sign up and stay updated with the latest news.



By providing us with your email address, you agree to our Privacy Policy and Terms of Service.

View Today's Newsletter Here

Analysis, Politics

‘History will take note of those who ridiculed removal of Article 370’: PM Modi in Maharashtra

PM Modi also expressed confidence that the BJP will break all victory records in the October 21 Maharashtra Assembly elections. Prime Minister on Thursday once again lashed out at the opposition saying that history will take note of those who mocked the abrogation of Article 370, that gave special status to Jammu and Kashmir. “Whenever Article 370 will be discussed in history, — the decision that was taken in the interest of the country — the people who opposed and ridiculed will be remembered,” PM Modi said while addressing a poll rally in Maharashtra’s Parli. He said the next week’s state Assembly elections were a battle between BJP’s “karyashakti” (power of development) and opposition’s “swarth shakti” (selfishness). Further targeting the Congress and NCP leaders, he wondered if “frustrated and dejected” people could do anything good for people. “A Congress


By The Statesman
October 18, 2019

Analysis, Politics

S. Korean, ASEAN officials look ahead to special summit and stronger regional ties

Korea has increasingly look to Southeast Asia as an export destination and regional partners. Ahead of the highly anticipated summit in Busan next month between the leaders of South Korea and the Association of Southeast Asian Nations, top officials from participating countries gathered in the southern port city Wednesday and voiced high expectations for the future of the relationship between South Korea and the ASEAN nations. South Korean Ambassador to ASEAN Lim Sung-nam, ASEAN-Korea Center Secretary-General Lee Hyuk, Busan Mayor Oh Keo-don and Myanmar Ambassador to South Korea U Thant Sin said they looked forward to the upcoming summit, calling it a steppingstone to stronger South Korea-ASEAN ties and to economic prosperity and peace on the Korean Peninsula. “In the past 30 years, the relationship between South Korea and ASEAN has grown to an astonishing degree. Trade volume rose 20-fold and human e


By The Korea Herald
October 18, 2019

Analysis, Politics

Hong Kong leader Carrie Lam unveils measures to ease housing crunch

Lam was forced to deliver speech via video after protests. Embattled Hong Kong leader Carrie Lam announced measures aimed at easing a housing shortage on Wednesday (Oct 16) as she battles to restore confidence in her administration and address widespread discontent after four months of mostly violent anti-government protests. Mrs Lam was forced to deliver her speech via video after her annual policy address in the Legislative Council was aborted when some lawmakers repeatedly jeered and shouted at her as she began speaking. After aborting her speech in the chamber tw


By The Straits Times
October 17, 2019

Analysis, Politics

Personal exchanges cement Sino-US ties, envoy says

Nicholas Platt accompanied US President Richard Nixon on his historic Beijing trip. Over the past four decades the China-US relationship has become too complicated to decouple, and many on both sides are determined to sustain it, a US diplomat and China expert told China Daily in a recent interview. Using an iceberg as an analogy, Nicholas Platt, who accompanied US president Richard Nixon on his historic trip to Beijing in 1972, said in an exclusive interview on Oct 3 that private, nonstate links between China and the United States have grown exponentially in past decades. They are kept intact below the surface despite the “jagged piece of ice” and “sharp edges” seen above the waterline. “There may be people who want to decouple us, but there are a lot of people who don’t, or people who’ve had relationships between” the two countries-organizations,


By China Daily
October 16, 2019

Analysis, Politics

Xi, Modi chart course ahead for new era

Informal meeting in India designed to build mutual trust between neighbors.  China and India can create an even closer partnership in the new era, as the countries’ leaders have reset relations through an informal meeting over the weekend in the coastal city of Chennai in southern India, officials and experts said. President Xi Jinping and Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi had in-depth discussions on bilateral, regional and international issues of “overall, long-term and strategic” importance in their second informal meeting, Vice-Foreign Minister Luo Zhaohui told reporters after the meeting. Xi called for building up strategic mutual trust between the two neighboring countries and defusing their differences through communication. He said the only correct choice is for the “Chinese dragon” and “Indian elephant” to dance together in ways that


By China Daily
October 15, 2019

Analysis, Politics

Thousands of pro-democracy protesters throng Hong Kong’s Chater Garden

The protests have escalated in violence and crackdowns in recent months. Tens of thousands of pro-democracy protesters gathered at Hong Kong’s Chater Garden in Central district near government headquarters on Monday evening (Oct 14) for the first approved rally since a face mask ban came into effect on Oct 5. The rally, which came a day after an improvised explosive device was detonated during unrest,  was called in support of the Hong Kong Human Rights and Democracy Act, a proposed US legislation aimed at reviewing the territory’s special trading status and potentially sanctioning some Chinese officials. Protesters urged


By The Straits Times
October 15, 2019