Razorpay, the payment gateway used by Alt News to receive donations, on Friday said only domestic payments were enabled for the fact-checking website and foreign transactions were not allowed without FCRA approval.
Delhi Police had last week told a Delhi court that they were investigating alleged violations of the Foreign Contribution (Regulation) Act (FCRA) by Alt News in their probe against co-founder Mohammed Zubair.
In a statement posted on his Twitter handle, Razorpay co-founder and CEO Harshil Mathur said the payment gateway had shared with investigating authorities “only specific data” within the scope of the investigation.
“While I am not allowed to share the specifics owing to the ongoing investigation, I want to state that the concerned business was only enabled to receive domestic payments in-line with our policy to not allow international transactions without FCRA approval for donation pages,” he said, without directly naming Alt News.
Amid concerns over the data that Razorpay may have shared, he said the specific scope of the investigating agencies’ request was only to determine whether there were any foreign donations.
“And therefore donors’ PAN, address, pin code etc were not shared, which we believed were outside the scope of the investigation,” he said.
The investigation into Alt News payments follows Zubair’s arrest on a complaint from a Twitter account that said he insulted Hindus in 2018 when he posted an image from an old Hindi movie.
On Alt News saying they were not contacted before the information was shared, Mathur said Razorpay had reached out on registered mobile numbers of the business but could not reach them.
“In hindsight, we understand it may have been difficult for them to get on the phone in such a situation and we could have tried to find other channels,” he said.
Giving details, he said the firm on Monday received a written notice for transaction data for a specific time period.
“We immediately reached out to the authorities to understand the scope and reasons for the request. A Razorpay senior leader went from Bengaluru to Delhi to speak to the authorities,” he said. “As is our process, we consulted multiple legal experts on this and got a unanimous view that we have to comply with the request.”
Razorpay temporarily disabled Alt News’ business account awaiting clarity on the purpose of the investigation to safeguard and prevent consumer losses, he said. “As soon as we got that clarity, we immediately re-enabled payments for them.” He also said policy experts and legal counsels across the country have given an undivided view that it was necessary for Razorpay to comply with the legal request.
“We have always championed the need for an appropriate data privacy law in the country,” he said. “We are not perfect, to anyone who feels that there is something else we could have done, my DMs are always open, please give us feedback.”