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Ola Electric responds to takedown notice by customer Balwant Singh, asks him to delete ‘negative’ social media posts within 24 hours

Earlier Balwant Singh had sent a notice to Ola Electric asking the company to take down telemetry data published on social media

May 12, 2022 / 07:05 PM IST
File image of Ola Electric scooters

File image of Ola Electric scooters

In a response to a takedown notice sent by a Guwahati-based Ola Electric customer, the e-scooter company has denied all allegations of violation of privacy and has asked the customer to cease and desist from making any defamatory statements against Ola Electric, delete all negative comments against the company on social media, and also withdraw the notice that was filed against it.

The company, through its lawyers Lakshmi Kumaran and Sridharan, has warned that if Balwant Singh, the Ola Electric customer from Guwahati failed to comply with the demands within 24 hours, then it would take action to protect its reputation and counter alleged baseless allegations. Ola Electric also said that it is ready and willing to “have a proper and respectful dialogue with you to find an amicable resolution”.

We have also reached out to Ola Electric for their comments on the matter, and the post will be updated when we receive a response.

This development comes after Balwant Singh on April 23 sent a takedown notice urging Ola Electric to take down telemetry data the e-scooter company had published, which indicated that his son Reetam Singh's accident was a result of driving at high speed. Earlier, Singh alleged that his son had met with the accident due to faulty braking system of the scooter.

‘Telemetry data is not personal’


Singh in the notice had claimed that by publishing the telemetry data, Ola Electric had violated privacy laws. "Ola and I signed an agreement to share data only for private access. The posting of telemetry data online is a breach of the privacy agreement between me, the user, and Ola Electric, the seller," Balwant Singh had said in the notice.

In its response, Ola Electric said that it denies Singh’s claim that telematics data is personal data, that it was shared without due consent and that by sharing the telematics data it was in violation of applicable law and privacy policies of the company.

Ola Electric in the notice said that the telematics data did not contain any personally identifiable information or sensitive personal information of Balwant Singh's son Reetam Singh.

The e-scooter company pointed towards the definition of “personal information” and “sensitive personal data or information” as provided in the Information Technology (Reasonable Security Practices and Procedures and Sensitive Personal Data or Information Rules), 2011, also known as the SPDI Rules.

Ola Electric said that the telemetry data does not come under the ambit of personal data or the SPDI rules, as it only shows the operational data of the vehicle during and before the accident.

Also Read | Ola Electric CMO Varun Dubey latest to quit, days after CTO exit

The company also denied Singh’s claim that the disclosure of telematics data amounted to violation of revealing personal data and was actionable under IPC 1860 and Indian Contract Act 1872.

Ola Electric said that personal data is processed by the company on the basis of consent and other grounds as it has been laid down in Ola Electric’s Privacy Policy. It added that customers agree to the terms of the privacy policy at the time of the purchase of the vehicle.

‘Noticer posted personal data, not us’

Ola Electric said the telemetry data published by the company does not amount to personal data. However, the company said that by publishing social media posts highlighting Reetam’s accident, Balwant Singh had himself published personal data about his son. Thus, Ola Electric claimed that Balwant Singh does not have legitimate expectation of privacy.

Pointing towards the KS Puttwaswamy vs Union of India judgement, Ola Electric said that once personal data is disclosed in the public domain, there cannot remain “there cannot remain any reasonable and legitimate expectation of privacy”.

‘Your actions were out of vendetta’

Ola Electric said that despite the telematics data indicating that Reetam’s accident was due to driving at high speed, Balwant Singh had continued to make and publish alleged baseless, false comments regarding the vehicle.

The e-vehicle company also said that Balwant Singh had tagged high ranking government individuals for allegedly creating a negative image of the company.

A few days after Balwant Singh posted on Twitter regarding his son’s accident, and tagging officials such as Union Minister of Transport Nitin Gadkari, the minister on April 21 said that the government was constituting an expert committee to enquire into mishaps involving electric two-wheelers.

Apart from that, Ola Electric’s notice also said that it regretted Balwant Singh's actions and termed it as vendetta.

What happened earlier

On March 26, Reetam Singh met with an accident while riding his father's Ola S1 Pro late at night on the Khanapara Highway in Guwahati, Assam. He claimed that he was riding at about 60 kmph when he spotted a speed-breaker. He alleged that when he applied the brakes, the scooter’s speed increased and he lost control of the vehicle.

However, about a month later, Ola Electric tweeted that Reetam Singh was speeding and he braked in panic. The company also put out data to back its claim that Reetam Singh was speeding, triggering protests from the rider, who said he wasn’t present when the company carried out its investigations into the mishap.

Earlier, while talking to Moneycontrol, experts had raised the issue of the sanctity of the data that was released by Ola Electric. Sankarshan Mukhopadhyay, technologist and contributor at Privacy Mode of Hasgeek had asked, “Ola Electric is publishing the data in a processed format. Would the consumers also have access to the same raw data so that they will be able to commission an independent verifier to arrive at a conclusion.” Ola Electric had not responded to Moneycontrol's queries in this regard.

Mukhopadhyay had said that there was conflict of interest in Ola Electric publishing that data. “What we have in public is visualised data from the company that says that they are not at fault. There is a conflict of interest here. It is in their interest to say that they are not at fault. How are you going to prove that you did not tamper with the data? How did you maintain data integrity?”

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Aihik Sur
first published: May 12, 2022 10:44 am
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