Tata Neu, India’s New Super App, Has a Privacy Problem

April 7, Ranendra Ojha, a marketing professional in the eastern Indian city of Calcutta, was looking forward to installing and using the new super app, Tata Snow. Super apps are umbrella mobile apps under which companies offer a lot of services. But as soon as Ojha installed and registered Tata Snow on his phone number, he was dismayed to see that this newly launched app already had three of its old addresses along with his full name, details that never shared with the app.

While digging further, Ojha noticed that the app appeared to have extracted data from the Big Basket grocery app, which Ojha uses frequently. Like Big Basket, Tata Neu is owned by the almost 155-year-old Tata Group. One of the largest conglomerates in India and a household name, the Tata Group sells everything from salt to software and has recently ventured into the world of consumer technology through a large number of acquisitions.

“Frankly, I was surprised that Tata had collected my personal data from one of the apps they had and used it for this new app,” says Ojha. “In fact, they have shared my personal data with all the companies in the Tata group without my permission.”

Another user based in the city of Bangalore, South India, was also surprised when he saw several addresses (including the address of his old house, where he no longer lives) and his date of birth. preloaded on Tata Snow when registered. using your phone number and a unique password. What he found most puzzling is that his wife’s Tata Neu also had his old office address, which he says they never used for any purpose. “Personally, I’m a big fan of Tata Group, and there’s confidence when it comes to the Tata brand,” says Naren, who asked to be quoted under a pseudonym, for fear of the company’s reactions. “But that confidence is lost when they do this kind of stealthy thing under the name of user experience.”

Tata Snow launched in the first week of April and has had at least 2.2 million downloads. The app hosts all of the company’s brands that include sectors such as e-commerce, financial services, airline tickets, groceries, medicines and hotels. But the inclusion of preloaded personal data in a new app means that the Tata Group has managed to save customer data to their online and offline businesses and create their profiles. According to privacy advocates, this is problematic because it happened without the explicit consent of the users and in the absence of a comprehensive data protection law in India.

The Tatas, with a market capitalization of more than $ 300 billion at current exchange rates, have had a strong offline presence in a wide range of sectors. But until relatively recently, consumer technology remained an untapped market. So a few years ago, in an attempt to compete with big tech companies such as Amazon and Walmart-owned Flipkart, Tata began building its digital profile by acquiring startups such as the online grocery firm with the support of Alibaba Big Basket and the drug delivery startup 1mg, along with an investment. at the health and fitness startup Cult.Fit.

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