‘Use consumer data only after clear nod’

Telcos are subjected to very strong regulatory oversight, says Bharti’s Vittal

Bharti Airtel MD and CEO for India and South Asia Gopal Vittal on Tuesday stressed that all firms, including service provider, operators and device makers, should use consumer data available with them only after users’ ‘explicit permission.’

Speaking at the India Mobile Congress 2019, Mr. Vittal said, “I think it is incumbent upon all of us, representing the industry, whether it’s the operator or the application provider or the device company to be very respectful of the data that we possess and to be explicit about the permissions that you seek from customers in order to use.”

He noted that telcos are “blessed” with an incredible amount of data. “We have significant strengths, we’ve got, you know, the data of the customer in terms of who they call, where are they calling, how long are they speaking, what messages they are receiving, what content are they browsing. So, we have a credible repository of data.”

He, however, added in their business model, there is check and balance as it is predicated on subscription of services, rather than actually exploiting the data. “We’ve been subjected to very strong regulatory oversight. We’ve been subjected to very strong laws of the land in terms of how we use the data, and we use it only for our own purposes, for our internal marketing and so on and so forth. And I think that, in a way, it a good thing.

Clear understanding

“So, wherever you’re going to use the data, obviously, it must come with very explicit permissions…very clear understanding of how the data is going to be used which over time will become increasingly important as more and more people become sensitive to this.

“I think people have become extremely sensitive in Europe, as you know, in parts of India this will only grow.”

In his address, Ajit Mohan, MD, Facebook India, said the Internet evolved in the last 15 or 20 years without a lot of operating rules, including on data and privacy.

New rules of net

“I think we are quite vocal now that we encourage the articulation of what the new rules of the internet should be.

“I think this conversation is very real in the company. And I think in the last couple of years, we have fundamentally transformed ourselves as a company…”

Headded that privacy influenced how the company, which had recently been embroiled in controversy over misuse of user data, thinks about and rolls out products.

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