Airtel JavaScript Code Injection Discussed in Parliament

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Airtel JavaScript Code Injection Discussed in Parliament

Airtel says it is injecting JavaScript into its customers' browsing sessions for the sole purpose of improving the user experience, Minister for Communications and Information Technology, Ravi Shankar Prasad, reportedly said in response to a question in the Rajya Sabha.

The country's largest telecom operator by subscribers count was caught by Bangalore-based programmer Thejesh GN injecting JavaScript into the browsing sessions of its subscribers.

Politician Rajeev Chandrasekhar, who is an independent member in Rajya Sabha, asked(via Medianama) the government whether it had taken note of the reports, and what action had been taken, if any.

In response, Prasad said that the government is aware of the media reports and noted that telecom regulator Trai had asked the telco to submit a detailed report on the matter.

Quoting Airtel's response, Prasad said, that the injection of JavaScript is being "done solely with the object of improving customer experience and empowering customers to manage their data usage through suitable timely prompts in terms of volume of data used."

"Such solutions are already deployed and continue to be deployed by operators globally to enhance information, customer service and experience. Further, Bharti Airtel Limited has denied the allegations."

While Prasad insists that the government takes privacy and security very seriously, noting that Department of Telecommunications mandates all the telecom service providers "as part of license conditions that licensee shall take all necessary steps to safeguard the privacy and confidentiality", based on the response, it seems that the regulator and the government are taking Airtel's word on the matter.

Over the past few weeks, experts have raised concerns over Airtel's practice. Questions like what gives Airtel the authority to inject JavaScript into its subscribers' browsing sessions without their consent remain to be answered.

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