Imagine an Israeli company spying & collecting your personal and browsing informationwithout your knowledge and then selling it to Airtel India.
Now imagine an Indian coder exposing this malpractice.
Now imagine the unthinkable: the Israeli company sending a legal notice threatening the Indian coder with Indian laws.
Sadly, that’s exactly what has happened.
Here’s how this story unfolded:
On 3rd June, 2015, Thejesh GN, an infoactivist and programmer from Bangalore noticed that Airtel is secretly injecting scripts into user’s web browser.
The code tries to insert a toolbar into the user’s browsing session
In layman’s terms, Airtel was collecting user information & trying to alter user behavior without user permission: a practice that’s as unethical as it sounds.
If that wasn’t enough, Thejesh received a threatening notice (Cease & Desist notice) from an Israeli company named Flash Networks Limited
Here’s the whole legal notice.
The company also sent a DMCA takedown notice to Github (where the incident was first reported by Thejesh). Github has now removed the code and screenshots
It’s confirmed that Airtel (and even Vodafone) are clients of Flash Networks Limited
Bottomline is, an Israeli company threatening an Indian for exposing an Indian company’s malpractice is what Shahid Kapur would perfectly describe as Chutzpah.
Is Airtel aware that their partner-in-crime is harassing an innocent well-wisher and activist for a crime he never committed? Is Airtel aware that injecting malicious scripts into unsuspecting user’s web browser is considered unethical throughout the world? Is Airtel taking things for granted? Is Airtel taking its users for granted? Will Airtel respond to this issue or decide to bury its head under the sand?
Update: Official Statement sent to Storypick from Airtel
“This is a standard solution deployed by telcos globally to help their customers keep track of their data usage in terms of mega bytes 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 GN, and categorically state that we have no relation, whatsoever, with the notice.”