Israeli firm gets legal on Indian techie over ISP ad injection spat

Streisand Effect 2.0 kicks in as web laughs and points

ganesha_648
Multiple arms of the law, or sub-continent silliness?

Update An Indian security blogger was hit with a gagging order by an Israeli firm after he linked its technology to a sneaky ad injection by his ISP.

Thejesh GN, an activist and programmer, got into legal hot water after he alleged that Airtel 3G was injecting JavaScript and iFrames into mobile browsing sessions. This JavaScript apparently attempted to insert some sort of toolbar. Airtel says the complained-about script simply measures data usage.

The script was coming from an IP address linked to Bharti Airtel Limited, as Indian news site The Wire reports.

Thejesh posted details of the incident and screenshots to GitHub, a collaboration platform for web developers, as part of attempts to get to the bottom of the issue.

In response, Thejesh received a cease-and-desist order from Israeli firm Flash Networks via their attorneys in Mumbai. It wanted the blogger to delete his posts which, lawyers argued, violated Flash Networks' copyright, as well as offering a possible violation of Indian computer crime laws.

Lawyers followed up the legal nastygram by issuing a takedown notice (under the US Digital Millennium Copyright Act) against GitHub.

A Flash Networks press release from last year shows that Bharti Airtel is among its clients. Its technology allows "operators to boost network speed, optimise video and web traffic, and generate over-the-top revenues from the mobile Internet". ISPs and telcos can gain revenues from search, over-the-top content, and targeted advertising.

"This is a standard solution deployed by telcos globally to help their customers keep track of their data usage in terms of mega bytes used," said an Airtel representative via an email.

"We are also surprised at the Cease and Desist notice served by Flash Networks, and categorically state that we have no relation, whatsoever, with the notice. It is meant to improve customer experience and empower them to manage their usage. One of our network vendor partners has piloted this solution through a third-party to help customers understand their data consumption in terms of volume of data used," Airtel added.

Airtel has been in touch with el Reg to state that the script it is serving is only a benign data usage utility, widely used by other telcos. It also dissociated itself from the legal nastygram served against Thejesh GN, going so far as to express surprise that its technology supplier had gone legal on the blogger.

In a statement, Airtel said:

This is a standard solution deployed by telcos globally to help their customers keep track of their data usage in terms of mega bytes used. It is therefore meant to improve customer experience and empower them to manage their usage.

One of our network vendor partners has piloted this solution through a third party to help customers understand their data consumption in terms of volume of data used. As a responsible corporate, we have the highest regard for customer privacy and we follow a policy of zero tolerance with regard to the confidentiality of customer data.

We are also surprised at the Cease & Desist notice served by Flash Networks to Thejesh GN, and categorically state that we have no relation, whatsoever, with the notice.

Flash Networks has yet to respond to The Register's questions. ®

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