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Updated: February 8, 2012 19:59 IST

Advocate of the 'Free Web'

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INFLUENCING CYBER LIVES Ankit Fadia. Photo: S. R. Raghunathan
The Hindu
INFLUENCING CYBER LIVES Ankit Fadia. Photo: S. R. Raghunathan

Author Ankit Fadia has come up with a book on how to unblock every system of control on the Web. It's for people who are non-geeky and want to experience the thrill of knowing something that sounds taboo

It is a bit intriguing to meet someone like Ankit Fadia. He has a marketing machine behind him that churns out campaigns that make spectacular claims about his hacking abilities and the influence he wields. The inlay cover to his latest book “How to unblock everything on the Internet” says: “His work has touched and influenced the cyber lives of millions of individuals and organizations worldwide”.

My first impression of him is that of a person trying to appear larger than life and accessible at the same time. At the Landmark bookstore in Nungambakkam, Chennai, to unveil his latest book, I try to engage him in conversation of current interest. I pick on the recent DDoS (Distributed Denial of Service attack) by the hacker group Anonymous on the U.S. Government and Hollywood websites following the forced closure of the peer-to-peer file sharing network Megaupload. Fadia says he is unaware of the development because he has been busy touring different cities to promote his book. He does recall fleetingly that the website was run by a guy with a funny name (Kim Dotcom).

He seems keener to talk about the Union Government wanting services such as Google and Facebook to censor ‘objectionable content'. He positions himself as an advocate of the ‘Free Web,' free not just from censorship but also access restrictions, which is what his latest book is all about.

“There is no point in the network administrators at colleges or offices trying to block websites. Those who want to access websites are going to find ways to, no matter what. And that is what this book is about.”

I try to argue that far from enforcing censorship or restricting access, there might be justified cases where access to some websites reduces productivity. But that just leads to a never-ending-argument.

Ankit says that after writing 14 books for geeks, on topics such as email hacking, system forensics and data encryption, this is his maiden attempt to reach out to the general audience. “At nearly every college I visit to deliver a talk on ethical hacking or computer security, this is the first question students ask — ‘How to unblock the system to access websites such as Facebook?'”

But there is also the much larger context. The people's movements in the Middle East over the past year have had repressive governments trying to block access to social networks such as Facebook. That is why some of the tricks in the book such as using web proxy servers or anonymity networks such as the TOR Project serve as a useful introduction.

The book is accessible to the lay reader. It is a good introduction to the topic of free access and a ready-reckoner, especially if you do not know where to look for information on the Web.

‘How to unblock everything on the Internet” is published by Vikas Publishing House and is priced at Rs.150. Ankit is running an ‘Unblocking Contest' with the book, welcoming suggestions from his readers that are not explained in the book on how to unblock the Web. He has promised to publish good ideas in the upcoming revisions to the book with credits.

Keywords: Ankit Fadiahacking


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