A sting operation conducted by news portal Cobrapost has suggested that digital payments major Paytm may have shared user data of details of protestors in the Kashmir Valley with Prime Minister’s Office (PMO) after receiving orders from them.
This was part of Cobrapost’s investigation 'Operation-136 II', which released a video of Paytm’s senior VP Ajay Shekhar Sharma saying that someone from the PMO asked for data of users to identify stone-pelters. Ajay is the brother of Paytm founder Vijay Shekhar Sharma.
Paytm, however, has rubbished the allegations, claiming that there is no truth in them. It put out a statement saying, “There is a video going around on social media and it falsely claims that we shared some data with 3rd parties. Nothing can be further from the truth. We never share your data with anyone: any company/ any government or any country. At Paytm, your data is yours. Not ours, or of a third party, or of the government. Our policy allows only legally compliant data requests through a thorough process from law of the land to get access to data for necessary investigations.”
It further claims that it has neither received requests nor shared any data without a legally compliant request from a bonafide agency and through proper process and channels. “You can be sure, we have never shared, nor will share your data with anyone whom you never gave us permission to share with. This is the holy grail of trust between us. Any person claiming or talking otherwise is not aware of the policy and is not authorised to speak on behalf of the company,” it added.
In the video too, while Ajay is seen claiming that data was requested, there is no clarity on whether the request was accepted or not.
According to the video released by Cobra Post, Sudhanshu Gupta, VP Paytm and Ajay has seen discussing a deal with the undercover journalist, while sharma talks about his affiliations to RSS and his right ideology.
Interestingly, this comes at a time when Paytm has openly spoken about its views on data protection where it has said that data generated in the country should remain here and not leave the boundaries of the country and that it should be users who should own their data and not the company or a government.
In February, Paytm also openly criticized Facebook-owned WhatsApp’s beta run of its payments platform claiming that this service risks of consumer data being misused. Vijay Shekhar Sharma openly accused WhatsApp of flouting National Payments Council of India (NPCI) rules on UPI and of trying to enter the country through unfair means.