news Tuesday, June 09, 2015 - 05:30
When Thejesh KN posted a code outing possible privacy violations by telecom companies, he would not have imagined that the reaction would be a threat of a lawsuit from Israel. What's funny is that the code was sent to his computer by the company, without his consent. Israeli mobile monetization firm Flash Networks, which lists Bharti Airtel and Vodafone as its customers, has sent a cease and desist notice to Thejesh for “infringing upon copyright owned by FN” under IPC 1860 and the Information and Technology Act, 2000.  Thejesh was on an Airtel connection when he tweeted about the ISP "inserting javascript into our browsing session", and posted a snapshot of the code on GitHub. Three days later, he was served the notice. Airtell 3G is injecting javascript into your browsing session — Thejesh GN (@thej) June 3, 2015 On June 9th the post was removed from GitHub after a takedown notice was issued under the Digital Millenium Copyright Act of the US, though a cached version of the script still remains. Pranesh Prakash, Policy Director at the Centre for Internet and Society tweeted stating Thejesh has not violated copyrights and was protected under Section 52(1)(ac) of the Indian Copyright Act 1957. The law states that “the observation, study or test of functioning of the computer programme in order to determine the ideas and principles which underlie any elements of the programme while performing such acts necessary for the functions for which the computer programme was supplie” is not illegal. Social media users have however also brought into question the role of ISPs like Airtel. The ISP, on this occasion, had sent out additional information along with the URL’s data, which is used to generate advertisements according to the user’s interest. "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," said an Airtel spokesperson. Airtel have also responded to the cease and desist notice issued to Thejesh. In a statement to The Times of India, a company spokesperson was quoted as saying that "​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." According to Flash Networks' website, their service “enables mobile operators to present contents and services according to the specific context of browsed pages.” The company mentions that their service does provide content which is based on the user’s interests. In a statement, Bharti Airtel had said that the script is a tool which the company is building on, which helps customers in “keeping a track of their data consumption.” Vodafone has not responded to the queries made by The News Minute so far.