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UPI apps must seek user consent before collecting location data: NPCI

UPI apps like Google Pay and PhonePe can no longer geo-tag transactions without user consent and cannot deny UPI services to users who don’t share location data.

The National Payments Corporation of India (NPCI) has instructed all Unified Payments Interface (UPI) members to seek consent from users before collecting their location data, as per a circular issued on July 5. Why does this matter? Privacy activists have pointed out that collecting location information (geo-tag, geo-code) of the user while processing their transaction poses surveillance risks. Regardless of what prompted NPCI to issue these new guidelines and the delay in doing so (~6 years), these guidelines address some of the privacy concerns because UPI apps like Google Pay and PhonePe can no longer geo-tag transactions without user consent and cannot deny UPI services to users who don't share location data. Currently, Google Pay and other UPI apps do not allow you to initiate a transaction if location sharing is denied. https://twitter.com/logic/status/1546320328850153472?s=20&t=mP984WauCnALFHFFKicW3g What are the new guidelines? In the UPI application programme interface (API) framework, location information of the payment is captured while initiating a transaction. "As mentioned in the NPCI guidelines, location details along with other relevant customer data needs to be captured within the app provider's system in an encrypted format. In extension to the stated guideline, since geo-tagging involves customer-centric information and such data points are used as per the defined norms and regulations, we are releasing the below-mentioned directions to be followed by all the UPI members," the circular stated. Consent: UPI apps are allowed to capture location or geographical details only with the consent of the customer. This cannot be mandated and the option for enabling or revoking the consent to share…

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