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Airtel: We have nothing to do with “spy code” or legal notice

Bengaluru-based programmer finds that Airtel is inserting codes to track user's browsing patterns.

Written by Debashis Sarkar |
Updated: June 11, 2015 10:42:24 pm
Airtel spying, Bharti Airtel, Bharti Airtel spying, Airtel 3G browser codes, javascript, privacy, telecom news, Internet, Airtel 3G, Airtel 3G price, Airtel 3g speed, technology news Airtel is allegedly inserting codes to track user’s browsing patterns.

Bharti Airtel has again made headlines for all the wrong reasons. After angering Internet users in India with its ambitious VoIP pack and Airtel Zero plan, the telecom giant has been now accused of spying on its 3G mobile Internet subscribers.


It all started with a tweet from Bengaluru-based programmer named Thejesh GN (@thej) claiming that “Airtel 3G is injecting javascript into your browsing session” over its 3G network. Later, Airtel in a statement accepted the existence of this code by saying that the said “solution” (or code) is deployed to help customers keep track of data consumption and ultimately better “customer experience”.

Airtel says, “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.

Thejesh further revealed that Airtel has actually partnered with Ericsson to get this so called data tracker solution. He made the codes or the “solution” public on code-repository website called GitHub. Soon after that he received a cease and desist legal notice from Flash Networks for making a proprietary code public. So, Airtel’s solution is actually made by Flash Networks and Ericsson simply offered this service to Airtel.

“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,” said Airtel in a statement.

Airtel further said, “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.”

So, what is this service about? Flash Networks on its website proudly boasts that it offers telecom operators “a new way to monetise.” Monetise from what? According to Flash Network’s website, the said solution “help mobile operators communicate with their subscribers as they browse the web, and to offer them services that generate new downstream revenues from over-the-top affiliation.”

Airtel has refused the claim of spying and said, “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.”

However, the said solution continues to exist and does what it is meant to do- go through browsing sessions of the user in the background and offer Airtel “services that generate new downstream revenues.” But has consumers asked Airtel to do this with their money? No.

Do you feel with Airtel 3G your privacy is at risk? Feel free to share your opinion in the comment section below.

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