As if we need further proof of the commercial sector encroaching on the right to free speech, we have an interesting story from India. Perhaps a sad indictment of todays business where they view the net and its billions of users with greedy eyes, wanting the attention drawn to their products but not wanting you to put your opinion forward unless it favours them.
Vodaphone is alleged by a customer (Dhaval Valia) to have sent a take down notice ordering removal of Facebook comments in regards to his unhappiness at the service Vodaphone provides. What Vodaphone did not count on (and maybe shows ignorance on their part) is that the story would hit the web and expose even more people to the incident (certainly more so than the Facebook users who saw the customer’s complaint)
Vodaphone has released a statement with a slightly different take on the matter:
we have a situation with one of our customers, despite several efforts on our part. Owing to certain unusual and improper dealings and communications by the customer, especially with our women employees, we were forced to take legal advice in this matter. We do not wish to comment any further in this regard.
However its alleged on the part of Dhaval Valia that Vodaphone has accessed private conversations on Facebook as well as engaginng in:
Hacking, tapping and tracking the customer’s Internet activity is a criminal offence and Vodafone, prima facie, seems to have done exactly that. What’s even more grave is that they have passed this information to a third party, their legal agency, without my prior consent or approval…
and ends with:
..arm-twisting consumers into submitting to their faulty and misleading ways and thus acting against the rights of consumers
So is this a case of “arm twisting” to remove comments which Vodaphone doesn’t approve of? The takedown notice had a time limit of 48 hours, but unfortunately I’d say it’s rather too late.
Don’t want less than favourable comments Vodaphone? Here’s a tip for you, make sure your customer is satisfied. In todays connected world the one thing you don’t do is try to silence someone in a public forum – that’s Customer Service & PR 101, a fact that after recent stories about footballers and super-injunctions I am surprised you didn’t realize.
I think now Vodaphone has more damage control on its hands than merely a few Tweets or Wall posting.
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