A Twitter handle of the police in Bengaluru, the IT hub in south India, has inadvertently made public the telephone numbers of more than 40,000 people who had contacted the control room, raising concerns about the privacy of the complainants.
The mistake, recently discovered, started in April 2015. Till date some 46,000 tweets containing numbers of citizens -- who had called the number 100, India's localised version of 911, or had used an emergency mobile app called Suraksha -- were made from the handle. The tweets were actually intended for police stations that were to respond to those calls.
The Twitter handle @BCPCR had only 66 followers, nearly a third of which were police stations within city. But it remains that anyone could have accessed the tweeted numbers.
The account has now been protected, barring public access to the tweets.
The Bengaluru police tweeted from its main handle, @BlrCityPolice: "It was a handle doing the internal communication and was not supposed for a public exposure. Now necessary privacy settings has been made."
In an earlier interview to The Economic Times, an officer from the control room said the tweets, which were generated automatically, displayed data on the calls received at the control room, people using the app, the calls responded to.
"It is obvious that the accused will know who registered the complaint and privacy does not matter here," he said when asked if the tweets would have exposed the complainants.
A woman who had called the police about some teenagers harassing girls at a bus stop told the paper that it scares her to think that her number may now be public.
"If the accused get my number, they are going to harass me. The police do not have any right to display our phone numbers in public, " she said.