Telcos agree with DoT, say no breach of privacy in sharing call data records

Mumbai: The Department of Telecommunications (DoT) on Wednesday refuted allegations that call data records (CDRs) sought from carriers was a breach of privacy and amounted to surveillance, saying that the details will be used to study poor network quality, call drops and cross connection complaints.

Telcos, who had initially slammed the move to collect call records due to concerns over privacy, on Wednesday said they had understood the DoT’s point of view and had cooperated with the department, given that the date shared did not violate privacy of subscribers.

“…this data is anonymous and does not contain names of either the maker or receiver of calls. There is no infringement of privacy of any person. No personal details are collected. There is no tracking of any phone number,” said DoT in a statement on Wednesday.

DoT added that it will not access call content, names etc of the subscribers. It termed the exercise as “an innovative way of identifying call drops and addressing the call drop issues. It will be appreciated that in the above exercise, there is no violation of privacy of any subscriber”.

ET broke the story online on Wednesday that the DoT is building an in-house platform backed by big data analytics amid incessant complaints of poor quality and the government confirmed the same.

“To identify in a more scientific and innovative manner, the specific problem areas and routes where call drops occur, DoT has in house developed a software tool to analyse big data and accurately ascertain call drops in any area,” the DoT said in a statement, adding that this was the reason for mass scale call records being sourced.

It said that big data analytics techniques can be used to identify calls which get disconnected within 30 seconds.

DoT’s statement comes on the back of allegations that CDRs in large scale were against privacy norms and in fact, Cellular Operators Association of India (COAI), which represents private telcos, had raised the issue with DoT as well.

The COAI, in a letter sent in February, said neither the intended purpose of requirement of CDRs is mentioned nor the identity of the subscriber(s)”.

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