Razorpay, the payment gateway used by Alt News to receive donations, said Friday that only domestic payments were enabled for the fact-checking website and foreign transactions were not allowed without FCRA approval.
Delhi police last week told a Delhi court that they were investigating alleged violations of the Foreign Contribution (Regulation) Act (FCRA) by Alt News in their investigation of co-founder Mohammed Zubair.
In a statement posted to his Twitter address, Razorpay co-founder and CEO Harshil Mathur said the payment gateway had shared “only specific data” with the investigative authorities as part of the investigation.
“While I am not allowed to share the details due to the ongoing investigation, I would like to say that the company involved was only able to receive domestic payments in accordance with our policy of not allowing international transactions without FCRA approval for donation pages.” he said, without directly mentioning Alt News.
Amid concerns about the data Razorpay may have shared, he said the specific scope of the research agencies’ request was only to determine whether there were foreign donations.
“And therefore the PAN, address, PIN, etc. of the donors were not shared, which we believe was beyond the scope of the investigation,” he said.
The investigation into Alt News payments follows Mr Zubair’s arrest over a complaint from a Twitter account that he insulted Hindus in 2018 when he posted an image from an old Hindi film.
On Alt News saying they had not been contacted before sharing the information, Mr Mathur said Razorpay had contacted the company’s registered mobile numbers but was unable to reach them.
“In retrospect, we understand that it might have been difficult for them to get on the phone in such a situation and we could have tried to find other channels,” he said.
He provided details and said the company received a written notice Monday for transaction details for a specific period.
“We immediately contacted the authorities to understand the scope and reasons for the request. A senior Razorpay leader went from Bengaluru to Delhi to talk to authorities,” he said. “Like our process, we have consulted multiple legal experts on this matter and are unanimous in our view that we should comply with the request.”
Razorpay has temporarily disabled Alt News’ business account pending clarification on the purpose of the investigation to protect and prevent consumer losses, he said.
“Once we got that clarity, we immediately turned payments back on for them.” He also said that policy experts and legal advisers across the country have expressed an unqualified opinion that it was necessary for Razorpay to comply with the legal request.
“We have always advocated the need for an appropriate data privacy law in the country,” he said. “We’re not perfect. For anyone who thinks we could have done something different, my DMs are always open, please give us feedback,” Mehta said in his statement.
(Except for the headline, this story has not been edited by DailyExpertNews staff and has been published from a syndicated feed.)