Telecom operator Vodafone has been accused of covertly sharing its subscriber data with UK’s intelligence and security organisation, Government Communication Headquarters(GCHQ). According to a report by Business Line, the company denies this accusation made by the the Union Home Ministry in India.
“Leading telecom firms, including Vodafone and Verizon, are learnt to be secretly collaborating with UK’s GCHQ and passing on details of their customer’s phone calls, emails and other communication and are known as ‘intercept partners’,” said an internal note written in December sent by Ministry of Home Affairs to the Finance Ministry.
The note also advised the Department of Economic Affairs (DEA) against the realignment of Vodafone India without settling pending tax issues, that involve Rs 11,200-crore tax dispute over purchase of Hutch’s stake in 2007. The Foreign Investment Promotion Board (FIPB) still went ahead with it and gave clearance for increasing the foreign equity in Vodafone India Limited.
There are 162 million Vodafone subscribers in India, and the collective data produced by the entire lot is huge. Although currently the company says that it does not disclose any customer data in any jurisdiction unless it is legally required to do so, such suspicions and allegations by the MHA can seriously deteriorate the telco’s image.
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