Paytm’s RSS and PMO links irk users, raise privacy concerns   

Mobile payment app Paytm denies it shares data with PMO or the RSS but users cry foul, try to uninstall the app and demand an enquiry by a Joint Parliamentary Committee

Photo courtesy: social media
Photo courtesy: social media
user

Vikrant Jha

  • Mr Modi is right here on our App…he has written a book Exam Warriors…we are actually promoting this book in the e-format
  • We will play your Bhagwad Gita as Gita Quiz…on our App, you will not believe the figures…every day 25000 to 30000 people play the quizzes we run on our App
  • I am surprised that the Sangh did not get in touch with us directly…RSS runs in our blood…I am closely associated with the Sangh
  • I know Arun Kumar and Praful Kelkar of the RSS quite well
  • I am surprised they did not take me into confidence…we have all kinds of work for the Sangh…the Sangh got us to do even those jobs that I cannot even share with you.

The statements allegedly made by Ajay Shekhar, Vice President of mobile payment wallet Paytm, and brother of Vijay Shekhar, President of Paytm , have taken the Twitter by storm. The statements form part of investigative news portal Cobrapost’s sting released on Friday.

The Cobrapost undercover journalist had met executives and owners of media houses as well as financial services companies to explore the possibility of running communally divisive content in the form of advertisement, programmes, events and advertorials.

But conversations revealed by the Cobrapost sting, if they turn out to be correct,  could open a Pandora’s box. While the company was quick in tweeting its defence and deny any wrongdoing,  it admitted that it had parted with data only with law-enforcing agencies, raising privacy issues and of data-theft.

Paytm, a mobile payment service, had come out with full page advertisements on November 9 , 2016 to welcome Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s 8 pm speech the previous day announcing that 86% of the currency in circulation would cease to become legal tender from midnight. Paytm was a beneficiary of the cash shortage that followed, forcing people to opt for digital payments.

Questions had been raised even then about how Paytm had managed to put together an advertisement and release them across the country in a matter of hours, raising suspicion that the company knew about Demonetisation in advance. Allegations had also been made at the time that both RSS and a section of the BJP were privy to the decision.

But conversations revealed by the Cobrapost sting, if they turn out to be correct, could open a Pandora’s box. While the company was quick in tweeting its defence and deny any wrongdoing, it admitted that it had parted with data only with law-enforcing agencies, raising privacy issues and of data-theft.

Both BJP and PM Narendra Modi’s personal App are now believed to have been beneficiaries of the data and profiles collected by Paytm. At the very least, it calls for a Parliamentary probe by a Joint Parliamentary Committee, feel activists.

On Saturday irate Paytm users discovered that while they can uninstall the application from their mobile, they are unable to delete their profiles. “ Paytm does not give users the permission to delete the accounts,” many of them tweeted.

As the Cobrapost expose went public, users started to uninstall the app but certain users, who wished to permanently delete their Paytm account were apparently not allowed by the mobile wallet app to do so.

A Paytm user Sachin Tandon posted the screenshot of an email by Paytm where the app says that, “Paytm account cannot be deleted, however we can block your (user’s) account as per your request.”

“Private data is now saleable for them (Paytm),” tweeted an angered Sachin.

In fact, a study conducted by the Centre for Software and IT Management (CSITM) at Indian Institute of Management Bangalore in early 2017 had warned that “Paytm, Freecharge, BHIM, etc have serious privacy concerns.”

Reacting to the Cobrapost expose, CPM’s Rajya Sabha MP Ritabrata Banerjee told NH, “stern action against the Paytm is the need of the hour. But I expect no action against them.”

“It’s a give and take policy that Paytm has with the ruling party. Otherwise, why after demonetisation Prime Minister was appearing in their advertisement,” he asked.

Another MP, AITC’s Dinesh Trivedi claimed to be unaware of the controversy. Pointing out that the mainstream media have not reported anything on the controversy, he wondered, “How will people get to know when the national media will not play it up?”

“No television channel or national newspaper has covered the expose. I’m not aware of any such expose.”

For all the latest India News, Follow India Section.


next