Paytm, the leading digital wallet company in India with more than 230 million customers, has reportedly shared the personal data of users with the Indian government.
According to a report in BuzzFeed late last week, the Indian investigative news agency Cobrapost released a video of an undercover reporter meeting with Paytm's vice president, Ajay Shekhar Sharma. During the meeting, the executive said the company provided the government with the personal data of users in the state of Jammu and Kashmir after he personally received a call from the prime minister's office. The call came after Kashmiri Muslims threw stones at Indian forces, which happens often in that highly charged region.
“They told us to give them data, saying maybe some of the stone-pelters are Paytm users,” Sharma said in the video, according to BuzzFeed. The executive also said he has close ties to the Rashtriya Swayamsevak Sangh, a right-wing Hindu nationalist organization that is seen as the ideological head of India’s ruling Bharatiya Janata Party.
In response to the report, Paytm said on Friday (May 25) that it did not share user data with law enforcement agencies based on a request. On a Twitter post, the company said: "There is absolutely NO TRUTH in the sensational headlines of a video doing rounds on social media. Our users' data is 100% secure and has never been shared with anyone except law enforcement agencies on request. Thank you for your continued support."
Meanwhile, a Paytm spokeswoman pointed BuzzFeed to a company blog in which it again denied the contents of the video and stated that it never received requests from law enforcement.
“Our policy allows ONLY legally compliant data requests through a thorough process from law of the land to get access to data for necessary investigations,” the post said. “To further clarify, in the past, we have neither received requests nor shared any data without a legally compliant request from a bonafide agency and through proper process and channels.”
When asked to explain the difference in information with the tweet and the blog, the company said: "Blog carried detailed view of our immediate tweet on the matter. It is clear that we have never got any request nor shared any data.”