Airtel is Invading Customer’s Privacy?

Airtel is Invading Customer’s Privacy?

Airtel is invading customers’ privacy, says Bengaluru-based independent technologist Thejesh G.N.

Bharti Airtel Limited is an Indian multinational telecommunications services company headquartered in New Delhi. Operating in over 20 countries across South Asia, Africa, and the Channel Islands Airtel provides GSM, 3G, and 4G LTE mobile services along with fixed-line broadband and voice services.

It is the largest cellular service provider in India, with 192.22 million subscribers as of August 2013. Also, it is the largest mobile operator in South Asia and the fourth largest in the world by subscriber base. Airtel’s telecom equipment is provided and maintained by Ericsson and Nokia Solutions and Networks. IT support is provided by IBM.

A social media activist has once again pushed telecom operator Airtel under the scanner.  He has accused that the company is invading customer’s privacy while browsing. The company has already encountered severe criticism over Net neutrality recently.

Airtel Zero, which was launched in April this year, is an open marketing platform that allows customers to access certain mobile apps for free with charges being borne by the app makers. However, the company has drawn flak on social media for violating the concept of net neutrality.

Bengaluru-based independent technologist Thejesh G.N. has stated in a Twitter post that “Airtel 3G is injecting javascript into your browsing session”. As proof of evidence, he also posted a screenshot of the code on GitHub. The IP address from which the Java code originated and sent was from Bharti Airtel in Bengaluru as per Mr. Thejesh’s post in GitHub.

A spokesperson in an email statement to clarify Airtel’s stand said, “This is a standard solution deployed by telcos globally to help their customers keep track of their data usage in terms of megabytes used. It is therefore meant to improve customer experience and empower them to manage their usage.”

“One of our network vendor partners has piloted this solution through a third party to help customers understand their data consumption in terms of volume of data used. As a responsible corporate, we have the highest regard for customer privacy and we follow a policy of zero tolerance with regard to the confidentiality of customer data. We are also surprised at the Cease & Desist notice served by Flash Networks to Thejesh G.N., and categorically state that we have no relation, whatsoever, with the notice.”

Later, an Airtel official, said, “We have stopped running this code as we found it is not helping our customer”, though he refused to be identified himself.

On the other front Flash Networks has taken legal action and has also, sent a ‘cease and desist’ notice to Mr. Thejesh. Flash Networks has been involved with the trial and doing it for Airtel indirectly through Ericsson.

When contacted, advocate Ameet Mehta, Managing Partner of the law firm Solicis Lex said that his firm is only interested in safeguarding our client. “We are not against anybody, we want to safeguard the copyright of our client if there is any infringement.” The statement came as the firm issued a C&D notice.



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