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Airtel code case: Programmer wants apology from Flash Networks

Bengaluru-based programmer Thejesh GN has countered the legal notice from Flash Networks by asking for "an unconditional apology"

Written by Debashis Sarkar | New Delhi | Updated: June 18, 2015 6:14 pm
Airtel Spy code, Bharti Airtel, Bharti Airtel spy code, Thejesh GN, Airtel 'spy code', online privacy, FlashNetworks, telecom, technology news Bengaluru-based programmer Thejesh GN has countered the legal notice from Flash Networks by asking for “an unconditional apology” for violating online privacy.

Bengaluru-based programmer named Thejesh GN, who had recently received a cease and desist legal notice from Israel-based Flash Networks for publicly posting a code that Airtel claimed was being injected to track its users, has denied any copyright infringement on his part. Thejesh, through his lawyer Lawrence Liang, countered the legal notice by asking for “an unconditional apology” from Flash Networks for violating online privacy.

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Thejesh also claimed in his reply that Flash Networks “has attempted to use a ‘cease and desist notice’ to intimidate and silence and prevent an open discussion on an issue of immense public interest”. Meanwhile, Airtel, in a statement, had said it has nothing to do with the “code” or legal notice sent to Thejesh.

Thejesh had accused Airtel of ‘spying’ after he discovered a javascript been reportedly injected in his website. Airtel denied this by saying that the so called “spy code” is a standard solution. However, experts claimed that injecting any sort of code without the permission of the user is illegal.

Justifying the publicisation of the code, the reply said: “In order to highlight the malicious manner in which this code had been inserted unlawfully into his website, and to educate and inform the general public about it, he proceeded to publish his findings including all the screenshots on GitHub. This is a common practice for anyone involved with scholarly research on breach of security issues on the internet, and it is generally understood that one solicits advice, further research, corroboration and refutation by publishing the research and asking for comments or amendments.

The lawyer claimed his client is “shocked and outraged by the demands made by your client”. “The unlawful insertion of code by your client into my clients source code amounts to a violation of the rights of my client, including but not limited to a violation of his privacy, an attempt to unlawfully access and hinder the operation of his website and a violation of the right to integrity of the work of my client,” the reply, also posted on his blog, said.

Rather than accepting the legal and moral responsibility for inserting malicious code that compromises the security and privacy of consumers, your client has attempted to use a ‘cease and desist notice’ to intimidate and silence my client and prevent an open discussion on an issue of immense public interest,” said the letter, copies of which have also been sent to Commissioner of Police Bangalore and ADGP, CID, Bangalore.

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  1. B
    Jun 18, 2015 at 3:17 am
    More treacherous and stinging is the revelation that the company is surrepiously injecting the malicious code during the online usage time for which the user pays money. Double whammy!
    1. R
      Jun 17, 2015 at 10:19 pm
      Airtel is clearly in the wrong in this case, and is sic-ing its hired Israeli poodle on to the man who was smart and bold enough to expose the totally unacceptable and illegal insertion of code without user permissions. Sadly, this has not resulted in the kind of outrage that say, the Sushma-Lalit nexus is, in the public space. It appears that a few crore rupees of shady kickbacks to a Raje or a Sushma is more important than the illegal attempts to gouge customers, invade privacy and otherwise mess up online users. By the way, Airtel does not do such things to improve "user experience", it does it to monetize all user actions that amount to hundreds of crore rupees.
      1. P
        Jun 18, 2015 at 1:15 pm
        we need to publish this in our facebook and twitter.. Let the world know about malpractice of Airtel.
        1. Sanjay Sharan
          Jun 18, 2015 at 6:54 pm
          One cannot believe Airtel could do this which kind of privacy they want to gather from trusted customers by doing interseption. We ve been blaming to CIA nd Chinese mobile manifacturar but , facing the proverve " Ghar ka bhedi Lanka dahe"( our own internal intercepts would ruin us) but why? b/s we ve trusted them need to answer.
          1. N
            Jun 17, 2015 at 7:21 pm
            Do not show any leniency and please take the pains to take this case to its conclusion as it has the potential to put a check on large scale unethical practices and abuse of rights in the name of proprietory. Indian government should also be pressed to p a law in support of open source and privacy of users like the antispam and cookie laws. Airtel should also be made accountable for its actions. By ensuring punishment for these guys it will be a favour to humanity.
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