No black sheep in Britain?

Sunsational reporting

They’re stealing our jobs. Oh, and look, they’re stealing our credit card information too. Fear-mongering helps sell tabloids. It also helps the anti-outsourcing lobby. But it does not make a lot of sense.

The veracity of The Sun’s reporting is still in doubt. But even if it is assumed that the newspaper did manage to bribe a call-centre worker into selling sensitive credit-card information, it does not immediately put the entire Indian BPO industry under a cloud at all.

Unscrupulous employees exist everywhere. It is not unimaginable that if India’s Tehelka or Mid-Day were to conduct a similar sting operation in London, a true-blue British employee will be found doing exactly what his true-blue Indian counterpart did.

Given the amount of resistance, dogma and suspicion they have to overcome, BPO companies worldwide and especially in India have every incentive to put in place systemic measures to prevent fraud. In a way, The Sun’s story is a blessing in disguise, as it will cause the Indian BPO industry to show-off the measures they have installed, and convince the laggards among them to beef up. While media sensationalisation may add to the smoke and noise that characterises protectionist lobbies, and may cause outsourcers to be more careful, it is unlikely to affect the India’s attractiveness as an attractive destination for outsourcing.

But The Sun found its story outshined by reports of a much bigger scam involving an American firm. Hackers at home, it appears, can cause much more damage, than those unscrupulous call-centre employees — Indian, British or anyone else. Sensationalisation may help sell newspapers, but does consumers a disservice by diverting attention from more likely threats.

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