Data privacy as cyber-protectionism

The Economist has an article on how data privacy concerns are being used as yet another bogey against outsourcing to India. However, Indian outsourcing companies consider themselves better than their Western counterparts in this area, but find themselves having to answer for things beyond their control.

Given the amount of outsourcing to India, there have been remarkably few security scandals. In a much-publicised case last year, a woman in Pakistan, working remotely for a medical centre in California, threatened to post confidential patient records on the internet if she was not given a pay rise. (The whole point of Pakistan, of course, is that it is not India. But it is close enough to worry some.) This year Wipro Spectramind, an Indian call-centre firm, caught some of its workers making unauthorised offers in phone calls marketing services for its client, Capital One, an American financial-services firm.

In the areas of biggest concern to banks and their customers,-card fraud and identity theft—there have been few reported incidents, and these have been small. At ICICI OneSource, for example, Raju Bhatnagar, the chief operating officer, says that there have only been two incidents of credit-card abuse, involving the theft of, respectively, $13 and $22. [Economist]

That’s one more reason why the ‘they are people like us’ line taken by some Indian lofty-softies does not really help.

2 thoughts on “Data privacy as cyber-protectionism”

  1. I personnely have worked on several project with large Indian firms where very sensative information has been “lost”. In part this was the fault of the US companies who should not have provided or allowed such sensative information to be accessed by vendors in diffrent countries. In fact many times there are rules and laws in effect that prohibit this but sometimes other vendors or third parties contract off shore companies to fufill parts of a contract and provide those organizations with data and information they should not. I am a big proponent of out sourcing and off shore development but I have seen many real world issues where with information provided to organizations out side the US have been abused or even sold to competitors. This is not because for some reason off shore companies are some how less trust worthy but rather there is less recourse than if the company is in the US. Worse though is project I have been on that are related to natiional security where information has been supplied to off shore companies that really should never be leaving the US. This is a real issue that can be handled by polocies and practices and current laws. I agree that some will use it as another barrier for trade but data privacey is a serious issue and the ability for us companies and organizations to seek recourse against none US companies is highly limited.

  2. I have worked at ICICI OneSource. I believe it is trivial to get limited quantities of data out of the system and misuse it.

    The lack of incidents is more due to employees inability to (mis)use the data, and their lack of knowhow. Basically, there is a limit to how one can use someone else’s private data in a third world country, especially when the data belongs to someone across the globe. And call-center employment in India is traditionally not meant for the ‘smart people’ anyways.

    Once a few intelligent people misuse the system, more people will learn how to do so. Initially companies will try to supress incidents – seeing how this damages the reputation of an industry which already has many troubles everywhere.

    But I believe that eventually the ‘crime rate’ will get as high as it was in the original countries .. and worse, it might prove difficult to track down the offenders because essentially they are on a different continent with different cyber-laws.

    Just my 2c, though.

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