Telecom major Bharti Airtel on Tuesday said companies need to respect data of consumers and should use information only after seeking “explicit permissions” from them. Bharti Airtel MD and CEO for India and South Asia, Gopal Vittal, said the company had access to various user data like the phone numbers they were connecting to, the duration of calls and the content that consumers browsed but assured that such information is not being misused.
“So, we have a credible repository of data. Our business model has a check and balance because our business model is predicated on subscription of services, rather than actually exploiting the data…we’ve been subjected to very strong regulatory oversight. We’ve been subjected to very strong laws of the land in terms of how we use the data,” he said at the India Mobile Congress 2019.
He further stated: “I think it is incumbent upon all of us, representing the industry, whether it’s the operator or the application provider or the device company to be very respectful of the data that we possess and to be explicit about the permissions that you seek from customers in order to use today.”
The issue of abuse of user data on technology platforms has been a matter of debate across the world. The Indian government, on multiple occasions, has stated that companies need to ensure that individual privacy should not get compromised.
The government, which is also crafting a data protection bill, is also of the view that sensitive and super-sensitive data must reside in India.
Social networking giant Facebook, which has faced issue of user data breach in the past, said the company has embraced privacy and that is influencing its new product launches.
“Privacy is something that we have already embraced and it’s influencing how we think about products and how we roll out products and equally I think we’re kind of inviting regulators, saying all of us will benefit from greater clarity on what the new rules of it (Internet) should be,” Facebook India managing director Ajit Mohan said.
Mohan also termed the gender imbalance in access to Internet as “worrying”, and said digital products and services must ensure that this divide is narrowed.
“In India, just 35 percent women have access to Internet. We need to understand that there is a big gender imbalance in access to Internet here. While telecom companies have done their bit and built capacity for networks, we want to build products that pull in more women towards Internet,” he said.
He added that the company is also focussing on ensuring that its products address women’s concerns around data privacy.
“Other focus areas are ensuring financial inclusion and boosting entrepreneurship and commerce. We want to ensure small entrepreneurs reach their market and our platform is rooted in the social fabric of the country,” he said.―Business Telegraph