Internet Activist receives notice for revealing Airtel’s secret code

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Thejesh GN, the coder and internet activist who recently revealed the secret code of Airtel on Twitter and other sources received a ‘Cease and Desist notice’ for infringement of copyright from an Israel-based company Flash Networks. Flash Network partnered with Ericsson and Airtel to test the secret code.

The notice warns Thejesh GN for criminal action under the IPC 1860 and Information Technology Act, 2000.

In a scenario when Airtel is already under criticism for breaching net neutrality through Airtel Zero, it drove itself into further trouble by inserting mystery codes into user’s web browsers without their knowledge. The secret code is inserted only in the web browsers of those users who use Airtel 3G network.

Although unknown of its purpose, it certainly raised a privacy issue for the users. Coders raised a concern that it could be tracking the browsing history of the users without their knowledge. These codes could also insert advertisement contents into the web pages based on the user’s browsing pattern, which purely hinted the monetizing aspect of it.

Thejesh GN exposed the Javascript code and iframes of the code on GitHub, besides tracing the IP address from where the code originated. The IP address belonged to Bharti Airtel, Bangalore.

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However, Airtel issued a statement saying that the code is not meant for any privacy violation; rather it helps users keep track of their data consumption. It had partnered with Ericsson to test this new solution, who in turn was using Flash Networks, an Israel-based company for the purpose.

"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.

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An astute writer with a track record in writing and publishing content for various industries, Ria brings on board her wealth of experience in journalism and love for technology to TelecomTalk. When not writing or reading, she spends a copious amount of time daydreaming and finding obscure Japanese folklore on the internet.

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