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India Outsourcing: Source of Easy Data Breaches?

TV sting operation raises concern among India's outsourcing companies.

(New Delhi) An undercover operation by Britain's Channel 4 exposing how customer data from Indian call centers could be illegally sold has raised concerns among outsourcing companies, with a trade group demanding Friday the television company share details to help investigate the matter.

The program, which aired in Britain, showed a man from Calcutta boasting about his contacts in call centers across the country and offering to sell stolen credit card data from tens of thousands of British customers.

The National Association of Software Services Companies, or NASSCOM, said Channel 4 had not responded to written requests for help tracking down the people shown.

In a statement Friday, NASSCOM also said it had doubts whether the data sold to the television station were real and could harm customers.

Police have filed a case against the man shown on the program, but NASSCOM said he had fled his home with his family.

Timely cooperation by Channel 4 "would have enabled prompt action against the alleged criminals," the statement said.

"We have no further update from them on their intent to share the details of persons shown in the program who have 'sold' the data to Channel 4," the statement quoted NASSCOM Chairman Kiran Karnik as saying. "However, we will pursue it further to ensure that criminals, if any, are rightly taken to the concerned authorities."

But Channel 4 said it disagreed with NASSCOM.

"As a responsible broadcaster, our role is to bring our findings to the public. It is not the role of broadcasters or journalists to act as agents of the police or any other authority," the television station said in a statement.

Many U.S. and European companies have shifted their call centers to India to cut costs. Although there have been several cases of data theft, NASSCOM said such cases are not unique to India and that outsourcing companies in India adhere to high security standards.

"We take any alleged breach of security extremely seriously," Karnik said.

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