India’s largest mobile operator Bharti Airtel has vigorously denied violating customer privacy by adding code that serves ads and tracks usage, claiming that the suspected code is used to help customers keep track of their data usage and is standard practice.
In statement, which was posted on Twitter, Airtel said one of its network vendor partners piloted the solution through a third party to help customers understand their data consumption levels 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,” it said.
But the controversy didn’t end there. After the blogger, Thejesh GN, posted screenshots of the suspicious code on GitHub, he received a “cease and desist” order from mobile internet optimisation firm Flash Networks, the Economic Times reported.
Airtel again said in a statement: “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.”
But those commenting on social media weren’t convinced. One Tweeted on @airtelnews that “your partner/3rd party used your network or you willingly tampered/intercepted customer data”, while another was more blunt, stating “you were caught with pants down & this explanation doesn’t hold water”.