The Department of Telecommunications (DoT) has refuted allegations that call data records (CDRs) sought from carriers was a breach of privacy and amounted to surveillance.

As per DoT, the details will be used to study poor network quality, call drops and cross connection complaints.

Further, DoT added that the data collected is anonymous and does not contain names of either the maker or receiver of calls. There is no infringement of privacy of any person and phone numbers are not being tracked.

As per the DoT, it has an in-house developed a software tool to analyse big data and accurately ascertain call drops in any area to identify the specific problem areas and routes where call drops occur. Further, it added this was the reason for mass scale call records being sourced.

DoT’s statement comes on the back of allegations that CDRs in large scale were against privacy norms. Additionally, Cellular Operators Association of India (COAI) had also raised the issue with the department as well.

In its recent statement, COAI said it was convinced of the DoT’s intentions and will be cooperating with the department.

Commenting on the matter, Rajan Mathews, director general, COAI, said, “DoT has discussed the issue with us and explained the reasons for seeking the data. Being satisfied, we have cooperated with the DoT to source the information sought by the DoT to improve network quality and address call drops.It is reiterated that the data is anonymised and does not contain the names of either the maker or receiver of the calls. Hence there is no threat of infringement of privacy of any person. Personal data and tracking of phone numbers are not sought.”

Further, Mathews, added “The DoT has reiterated that the data sought does not contain personal information like names and addresses of the subscribers or the names of the persons to whom calls are made. In the case of a dump of data from a tower base station receiver (BTS) focus is not on any individual user but on the quality of the services to the subscribers while passing through that BTS area. The analysis applied on this data is to help it determine actual dark spots where calls were made repeatedly within less than 30 seconds of the call.”

Further, telcos, who had initially slammed the DoT’s move to collect call records due to concerns over privacy, later agreed on DoT’s point of view and had cooperated with it.