Influence industry digital platforms, technologies and data in the General Elections

Date Posted: June 8, 2019 Last Modified: June 8, 2019
The influence industry digital platforms, technologies, and data in the General Elections in India Photo: tenretniwhitney, Flickr

The Indian elections are a complex, diverse exercise in democracy and the need to ensure a process for a fair and impartial election is of utmost importance. In light of Facebook's Cambridge Analytica scandal during the US elections, there's rising concern of the unclear role of the use of personal data in the context of the Indian elections. The rising role of data and technology in the elections since 2014 and the digital strategies employed in the run up to the 2019 General Elections is what the researcher aims to explore. The research draws upon news items, academic articles, policy and legislation, company websites and promotional material, campaigning and election material and voter rolls to investigate the role of data and technology companies in the Indian General Elections.

  • The rising numbers of mobile phone users in India allows political parties an unprecedented reach to express their views directly to voters. This raises the need for organisations that work on electoral ethics to match the monetary and technological capacities of these political parties to ensure better regulation.
  • Several media reports also note that political parties rework metrics and data to show desirable outcomes in order to appeal to voter. As the spread of these messages increases, the check on quality and authenticity of such messages becomes critical.
  • Similar to the case of Cambridge Analytica, the research finds a trend in private data collection and analytics companies having partnerships with political parties in order to impact voters. It is pertinent for countries to establish frameworks and safeguards for such partnerships.
  • There is a need for the Election Commission of India to decide on the appropriate use of public data for election purposes. The researcher suggests establishing oversight boards to monitor electioneering campaigns and tactics.