TDP in dock over data theft, FIR registered against four

Cyberabad: Police have registered a case after a complaint was received against the Telugu Desam Party (TDP) for allegedly using the people’s data illegally through ‘Sevamitra App’ to advance the party’s electoral prospects in the coming Lok Sabha polls in the state. Police have named four persons in the case.

The first information report (FIR) has been registered by the Madhapur police. The complainant Thummula Lokeshwara Reddy has stated in his complaint that “while studying about the practices of electioneering in view of the coming General Elections in Andhra Pradesh, he learnt about the use of certain mobile phone and tab-based software applications by the cadre of Telugu Desam Party (TDP), especially ‘Sevamitra app’ for advancing party’s electoral prospects as reported in the national newspapers.”

He further alleged: “When browsed the website of TDP, that is, and the official Facebook page of Telugu Desam Party, the details of ‘Sevamitra App’ are available, which was meant for the people who were registered as TDP members to gather information about voters and to work for the party’s win in the elections in 2019.”

In his complaint, Reddy alleged: “Bluefrog Ltd was given access to an enormous amount of official data in respect of the beneficiaries of various government schemes and also private data of individuals, including their demographic, geographic, and other identification features such as name, age, gender, address, Aadhar number etc., including the data of AP Smart Pulse Survey, data of State Resident Data Hub (SRDH), data of Praja Sadhikara Vedika, managed by Karvy Data Management Services Ltd, Hyderabad, data of IVRS surveys conducted by the government of AP.”

“The availability of such information in public domain poses a great risk to each and every voter in Andhra Pradesh. They are also making the use of this data to analyse, who are for and who are against to the ruling government and based on this analysis, they have deleted hundreds and thousands of voters and running into lakhs of voters where their names are deleted from the electoral rolls,” the complainant further said.

Police said that the complaint was received from Reddy on March 2. A case has been registered under Sections of 120(B), 379, 420, 188 of Indian Penal Code (IPC), and Section 66 (B) and 72 of the Information Technology Act.

The complainant has also claimed that the names of several people have been deleted from the voter list meant for the coming Lok Sabha polls, though their names were in the list during 2014 polls. Reddy has given some examples—Sreedhar Reddy Nalivela (ID No.RTT0112169), Em Manikanta (ID No.IAX0108092), Dadigelabavaiah (ID No.RRV0626184) and Anuradha (ID No.AYM0262691)—whose names have been deleted.

VC Sajjanar, Commissioner of Police, Cyberabad Commissionerate, said: “Lokeshwara has filed his complaint with the police. A case has been registered against four persons, namely, Bhaskar, Phani, Chandrasekhar, and Vikram Goud, who are running IT Grid Company.”

“It has been alleged that they are involved in data theft. As of now, the case is under investigation and we can give clear details after an investigation. We have served notices to the four persons and have called them to the police station as part of the investigation but they are not in our custody,” said Sajjanar.

BJP MLC Rama Chander Rao, while reacting to the alleged ‘data breach’ by the TDP through ‘Sevamitra App’ said: “TDP’s attempt to breaching data with an eye on elections is extremely unfair and action has to be taken against TDP.”

“No party or government has the right to peek into the privacy of a common man. This is clearly illegal and violation of our Constitution. I applaud the role of Cyberabad Police, which has lodged the complaint against the party,” he said.

YSRCP leader and Member of Parliament (MP) Midhun Reddy said: “Chief Minister N Chandrababu Naidu is trying to manipulate elections. In fact, for a long time, the TDP has been trying to remove all YSRCP voters from the list.”

“They are engaging IT software companies in Hyderabad. They also send people with iPads and mobiles to collect important information such as Aadhar and voter ID details. Now that we have lodged a complaint with the Election Commissioner, the investigations are going on,” said Reddy.