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Data Privacy Breach? Razorpay Has Handed Over Alt News Donor Data to Police: Pratik Sinha

On Monday, the fact-checking website’s account was disabled for a few hours “during preliminary investigation by law enforcement agencies” for alleged foreign donations, that has been denied by Sinha.
Pratik Sinha

Pratik Sinha

New Delhi: In a shocking case of alleged breach of data privacy, Razorpay, the payment gateway from which Alt News, the fact-checking website, gets its donations, was deactivated for a few hours on Monday, July 4, and restored hours later. But, in the meantime, it is alleged to have handed over the entire donor data to the police, said its co-founder Pratik Sinha.

The payment gateway had claimed on Monday that it had disabled the Alt News account from its platform “temporarily, as a safety precaution, during the preliminary investigation by law enforcement agencies.”

“Since we are committed to transparency to our readers and donors, we also wish to inform all of you that Razorpay handed over Alt News donor data to the police. This was done without informing us, or without even a preliminary investigation of any violation on the part of Alt News,” tweeted Sinha, seeking financial support from its readers and well-wishers.

It may be recalled that the fact-checking website’s co-founder Mohammed Zubair is under arrest for a 2018 tweet after a complaint by an anonymous Twitter handle called Hanuman Bhakt, which has since deactivated the account.

Read Also: Delhi: Media Fraternity Comes Together to Raise Voice Against Growing Attacks on Journalists

While arresting Zubair for tweeting a screenshot from a 40-year-old Hindi film, the police had also charged Pravda Media, under which Alt News operates, of receiving over Rs 2 lakh “through various transactions where either the mobile phone number or the IP address was of foreign countries”, which was denied by Sinha on Monday.

In a screenshot of a statement on Monday, Sinha denied the allegations, stating that the payment platform that the website uses “does not allow receipt of funds from foreign sources and we have received donations from Indian bank accounts only.”

Zubair, who was called for interrogation for some other case, was arrested by Delhi Police on a different FIR. He is now facing charges in two cases – one by Delhi Police on the tweet and the other by the UP Police in Sitapur, based on a first information report (FIR) filed on June 1 in response to Zubair calling Hindutva hardliners like Yati Narsighanand “hatemongers”.

According to a report in The Wire, on July 2, when Zubair’s bail plea was rejected by a Delhi court, the police added fresh charges of Section 120B (criminal conspiracy) and 201 (causing disappearance of evidence of offence) of the Indian Penal Code and Section 35 (punishment of five years for anyone who helps a person, a political party or an organisation in getting foreign contribution in violation of the Act) of the Foreign Contribution Regulation Act.

Zubair has been on the radar of the ruling party after he highlighted the  derogatory remarks on Prophet Mohammed made by then BJP national spokesperson Nupur Sharma on a TV channel. This had sparked outrage across the country, with many countries in the Gulf also  reacting strongly to it, embarrassing the Narendra Modi government on the world stage. Sharma was later suspended and an FIR was filed against her. She is yet to be arrested or called for questioning by the law enforcement agencies.

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