As surprising as it may sound, but the left-leaning media house The Hindu appears to be helping the right-leaning political party BJP in adding new members, or at least new mobile numbers, to its fold.
This issue was discovered and brought to notice by blogger Nikhil Narayanan, who saw a BJP ad while reading articles on the Android app of The Hindu.
He happened to click the ad, and he got a message, both on mobile screen as well as an SMS, thanking him for showing interest in becoming a member of BJP.
On @TheHindu android app, I saw a @BJP4India ad served by @Outbrain. I clicked through. A thank you screen followed. pic.twitter.com/AtlV0I2cH1
— Nikhil Narayanan (@nikhilnarayanan) April 8, 2015
Essentially, his mobile number was shared with BJP without Nikhil agreeing to share it.
It is a violation of privacy as a user should be ideally asked to confirm if he or she wants the mobile number to be shared with a third party.
In his tweets, Nikhil clarified that only clicking the ad did not make him a BJP member, as he was expected to take a few more steps to complete the membership process, but this left him wondering if The Hindu was guilty of sharing his private information with an advertiser.
Mobile apps usually store a user’s private information, but they are not expected to share such details with advertisers or any other third-party without explicit consent of the user.
Either The Hindu is guilty of knowingly disregarding these privacy concerns, or they didn’t do due diligence before finalizing advertising partners and platforms (in this case, the mobile advertising agencies).
And as of BJP, it is good to reach out to people and increase your fold, but don’t thank them too early. Maybe someone has clicked the ad only out of curiosity!