Airtel blames contentious privacy policy wording on clerical error; says committed to user privacy

New Delhi: Bharti Airtel has said it does not collect any personal information pertaining to genetic data, religious or political beliefs and health or sexual orientation of its subscribers, as the telco drew flak on social media over contentious contents of its privacy policy, which it later blamed on a “clerical error” and removed. The company asserted that privacy of its customers is of “paramount importance”. “We emphatically confirm that we do not collect any personal information relating to genetic data, religious or political beliefs, health or sexual orientation etc,” Airtel said in a statement. Citing reports on its privacy policy as stated on the company’s website, Airtel said, “The generic content of the definitions of what constitutes personal data as laid down by the IT Act are expansive, which had been inadvertently put on to our website. This was a clerical error.” The statement from Airtel came following social media outrage over the wordings on the company’s online privacy policy after some Twitter users shared screenshots and details of the data-related disclosures. As per the details doing the rounds on social media, the privacy policy in the section ‘collection of personal information’ earlier mentioned that the company and its authorised third parties may collect, store, process sensitive personal data such as genetic data, biometric data, racial or ethnic origin, religious or political belief, health or sexual orientation. “We thank those who brought this error to our attention,” Airtel said in the statement, as its removed the contentious wording from the policy. “The policy which we have always used to collect data has been duly updated for the benefit of our customers…,” it added.
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