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harbormaster
10-05-2006, 04:35 PM
BANGALORE, Oct 5 - The security of Indian call centres has come under scrutiny after a British television programme's investigation into data protection breaches, which industry officials worry could affect new business.

Britain's Channel 4 said on its Web site that after a 12-month undercover investigation it would show in a programme on Thursday that criminal networks in India had traded British consumers' bank account details and other commercial information for huge profits.

"This certainly comes as a jolt. Many deals, which probably are on the table, will see some delays," Raghu Raman, Chief Executive of information security consulting firm Mahindra Special Services Group, said.

"For lobbies who are looking for ammunition against outsourcing, this definitely will be a major thing. The opposition against outsourcing of jobs to other countries will become much stronger."

India's booming back-office sector -- which provides services such as handling customer requests and payroll accounting at a fraction of the costs of the West -- reported revenue of $6.3 billion in the year to March 31, 2006.

In 2006/07, the sector is expected to grow by 27 percent and generate revenues of $8 billion, the National Association of Software and Service Companies (NASSCOM) said in a recent report.

But a string of fraud cases has raised concerns about the industry, which employs around 400,000 people

In June, a worker at a Bangalore call centre of HSBC Holdings was arrested after funds were taken from British bank customers. Media reports said 230,000 pounds ($414,000) was taken in the fraud, which was caught by internal security.

In June 2005, the Sun newspaper in Britain said one of its reporters had bought bank details of 1,000 UK customers for three pounds ($5.40) each from an Indian call centre worker.

In April 2005, there was a $400,000 online credit card fraud involving workers at a leading Indian back-office firm, who police said enticed Citibank customers to part with details.

Citibank, ABN Amro, Standard Chartered STAN.L and HSBC are among financial giants that employ Indian workers to serve global customers.

Industry officials say workers are frisked and banned from bringing in mobile phones, pens and paper, cameras and even music players to prevent them from sneaking out valuable information. They also undergo background checks, sign non-disclosure agreements and attend courses on customer secrecy.

While back-office firms declined to comment on the latest allegations of security breaches, IT lobby group NASSCOM said it wanted the police to investigate Channel 4's claims.

"Security is number one priority. India has established an excellent international reputation and under no circumstances will we allow this to be compromised," NASSCOM president Kiran Karnik said.

Lenny
10-08-2006, 01:22 AM
...this borders on Political Scot... :D
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