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Documentary aired in UK, probe begins

However, even after the footage was aired, Channel 4 refuses to divulge details of people or companies involved, reports Prerna K Mishra.

india Updated: Oct 07, 2006 04:42 IST

Britain’s Channel 4 on Thursday aired its documentary Dispatches, based on a sting operation that showed middlemen in Delhi, Hyderabad and Kolkata offering personal data of British clients to journalists posing as entrepreneurs. But it did not divulge the names of the BPOs where security procedures were reportedly breached by middlemen like Sushant Chandak.

Even after the footage was aired, Channel 4 refused to divulge details of people or companies involved. HT tried to contact programme producer Mike Radford but the e-mails went unanswered.

A Channel 4 spokesperson, however, told BBC, “As a responsible broadcaster, our role is to bring our findings to the attention of the public. It is not the role of journalists or broadcasters to act as agents of the police or any other authority.”

The Regulatory Action Division in Britain has already spun into action to investigate the matter. As Channel 4 is not cooperating, the investigation team will start the probe from the other end of the spectrum: by persuading the UK firms named in the programme to divulge the names of the Indian BPOs they are working with.

Deputy Information Commissioner David Smith told HT, “From our side, we will investigate whether UK companies outsourcing work to India are living up to the responsibility of safeguarding the personal information of British citizens.” He said the team would be glad to engage with Indian stakeholders like the National Association of Software and Services Companies for any information.

Reacting to the allegations in Dispatches, NASSCOM president Kiran Karnik said, “We have no update from them on their intent to share details of persons shown in the programme who “sold’’ data to Channel 4. But we will pursue it to ensure criminals, if any, are rightly taken to concerned authorities.” NASSCOM has filed a complaint with the Kolkata police. The police have confirmed Chandak’s residence in Kolkata was searched on October 4 but he is missing.

Meanwhile, an e-mail in circulation, supposedly from Chandak, outlines the sequence of events and communication between him and the journalists. The communication started in July 16, 2005 but it was only on September 6, 2006 that Radford sent him the letter informing him how the proceedings had been filmed.