On April 7, Ranendra Ojha, a advertising and marketing skilled within the jap Indian metropolis of Kolkata was trying ahead to putting in and utilizing the brand new tremendous app, Tata Neu. Tremendous apps are umbrella cell functions beneath which firms supply a bunch of companies. However as quickly as Ojha put in and signed up for Tata Neu on his cellphone quantity, he was appalled to see that this newly launched app already had three of his outdated addresses alongside together with his full identify—particulars he by no means shared with the app.
As he dug additional, Ojha realized that the app appeared to have pulled knowledge from the grocery app Huge Basket, which Ojha makes use of steadily. Like Huge Basket, Tata Neu is owned by the just about 155-year-old Tata Group. One in all India’s largest conglomerates and a family identify, the Tata Group sells every thing from salt to software program and not too long ago forayed into the world of client tech by means of a slew of acquisitions.
“Frankly, I used to be fairly shocked that Tata had picked up my private particulars from one of many apps they owned and used it for this new app,” Ojha says. “In impact they’ve shared my private particulars with the entire Tata Group firms with out my permission.”
One other consumer primarily based within the southern Indian metropolis of Bangalore was equally shocked when he noticed a number of addresses (together with the tackle of his outdated residence, the place he doesn’t dwell anymore) and his date of beginning already preloaded on Tata Neu when he signed up for it utilizing his cellphone quantity and a one-time password. What he discovered extra perplexing was that his spouse’s Tata Neu additionally had her outdated workplace tackle, which he says they by no means used for any objective. “Personally I’m a really large fan of Tata Group, and there may be belief in the case of the Tata model,” says Naren, who requested to be quoted beneath a pseudonym, fearing backlash from the corporate. “However that belief is misplaced after they do these types of sneaky issues beneath the identify of consumer expertise.”
Tata Neu was launched within the first week of April and has had not less than 2.2 million downloads. The app homes all the firm’s manufacturers ranging throughout industries resembling ecommerce, monetary companies, airline tickets, grocery, medicines, and lodges. However the inclusion of preloaded private knowledge in a brand new app implies that the Tata Group has managed to save lots of buyer knowledge throughout its on-line and offline firms and create their profiles. In line with privateness advocates, that is problematic as a result of it occurred with out customers giving express consent and within the absence of a complete data-protection legislation in India.
The Tatas, with a market cap of over $300 billion at present trade charges, have had a powerful offline presence throughout a variety of sectors. However, till comparatively not too long ago, client tech remained an untapped market. So a number of years in the past, in a bid to compete with tech biggies like Amazon and Walmart-owned Flipkart, Tata began constructing its digital profile by buying startups like Alibaba-backed on-line grocery agency Huge Basket and medication supply startup 1mg, together with an funding in health-and-fitness startup Cult.Match.