Airtel does a Maggi!

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 , 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.)


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About Vijayashankar Na

Naavi is a veteran Cyber Law specialist in India and is presently working from Bangalore as an Information Assurance Consultant. Pioneered concepts such as ITA 2008 compliance, Naavi is also the founder of Cyber Law College, a virtual Cyber Law Education institution. He now has been focusing on the projects such as Secure Digital India and Cyber Insurance
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