Gujarat cops probe e-comm platform accused of illegally locking cell phones

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Gujarat cops probe e-comm platform accused of illegally locking cell phones

Ahmedabad: An investigation by the Gujarat police has found that an e-commerce platform is locking the cell phones of customers. The police is checking whether the e-commerce platform is violating consumers privacy and accessing their mobile without notice and locking it, and is it also violating the consumers rights because none of the customers bought the phones online from this platform.

Anand District Cyber Crime Cell Police Inspector Y R Chauhan told IANS, “We have summoned the e-commerce platform Flipkart three times, but there is no response. If required an investigation team will be sent to Bengaluru to record the statements of company officials. The police are investigating whether Flipkart is violating the privacy act, and under which law the company is locking cell phones using an app, does it have any right to do so to recover money which the end consumer does not owe to the company?”

According to a complaint lodged with the cyber cell police station, none of the customers have purchased cell phones from the e-commerce platform. On the contrary, the complainant, Azhar is a cell phone shop owner.

Investigating officer Amit Sharma told IANS, “Two months ago Azhar approached the police complaining that his customers’ cell phones are getting locked after six months or a year after purchase. Most of these cell phones were sold during the peak days of the corona pandemic.”

Sharma said during investigation Azhar revealed that most of these phones were bought from two persons, who used to sell to him at a low price and share the original bill of purchase. The sellers never told Azhar that they bought the cell phones from the e-commerce platform on EMI and buyers will have to pay the rest of the EMIs. Azhar sold them in the retail market, and the end users have lost phones and money.

Initially Azhar got a few phones unlocked from the same sellers paying them a good amount, but when the complaints increased into the tens, and have now reached 100, he approached the police.

The officer said during the technical analysis of these cell phones, it led us to a mobile application, which was used to lock these cell phones. Further analysis revealed that the app is used by the Flipkart company. The officer said summons have been issued to the company to establish its locus standi, its role and the right to lock the cell phones which were not purchased by the user from the company, but the company is not cooperating in the investigation.


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