Just as Maggi has got into a controversy on its taste enhancing additives to its noodles, Airtel appears to be encountering a controversy by introducing a “Computer contaminant” into its customer’s browsers which is an offence under Section 66 of ITA 2008.
According to this report in ehacking news.com , a programmer has published his findings that when customers using Airtel broadband internet account and browse internet, Airtel introduces a java script and an iframe into the browser. This script and iframe points to a specific URL.
On its part, Airtel has released a statement trying to explain its position. The explanation does not appear convincing but appears to suggest that it is trying to develop a tool to provide users information about the data usage during their browsing sessions.
In a way therefore there is an admission that Airtel has introduced what is considered as a “Computer Contaminant” under Section 43 of ITA 2008 which is defined as follows:
“Computer Contaminant” means any set of computer instructions that are designed –
(a)to modify, destroy, record, transmit data or programme residing within a computer, computer system or computer network; or
(b)by any means to usurp the normal operation of the computer, computer system, or computer network
Introduction of a Computer contaminant without the permission of the owner of a computer is a contravention under Section 43 of ITA 2008 and an offence under Section 66. The company would be liable for financial compensation and probably for at least being tried for a cognizable offence.
While the Company may have a reason to experiment with a tool not meant to harm the users, it has ignored the ITA 2008 compliance requirement which could have been met by providing a proper notice to the users.
Hope it would take the necessary corrective action by sending a proper notice to its customers clarifying its position.
(P.S: Thanks to a published erroneous judgement of the Adjudicator of Karnataka in December 2011, and the continued neglect of the Karnataka High Court and the apathy of the Central Government in not appointing a Chair person for the Cyber Appellate Tribunal, neither Section 43 nor Section 66 is applicable to Bharti Airtel in the state of Karnataka.)