Indian political party uses subsidized phones to target voters


As part of the digital campaign to win re-election, in mid-2018 the BJP, which controls the Indian national government as well as that of the state of Chhattisbarh, handed out $71 million worth of free phones and subsidised data plans to 2.9 million of the state's voters and then used the phones to target prospective voters. The plan's stated purpose was to bridge the digital divide in the state, which has a population of 26 million; hundreds of cellphone towers are supposed to be added to connect the 7,000 villages that do not have wireless data signals. Voters' responses during phone calls from the BJP are used by party activists to find those intending to abstain or vote for the opposition party, the Indian National Congress, and persuade them to vote for the BJP.
Writer: Vindu Goel and Suhasini Raj
Publication: New York Times
Publication date: 2018-11-18

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