Sci-Tech

TRAI website down; Anonymous India claims responsibility

An activist wears a mask as he holds a placard during a demonstration supporting net neutrality, in Bangalore.

An activist wears a mask as he holds a placard during a demonstration supporting net neutrality, in Bangalore.  

Anonymous India, group of hackers, has claimed credit for taking down the website with a DDoS (distributed denial-of-service) attack.

The Telecom Regulatory Authority of India's (TRAI) website has been allegedly taken down after they released all the email IDs of those who responded to their consultation paper on Net neutrality. Anonymous India, group of hackers, has claimed credit for taking down the website with a DDoS (distributed denial-of-service) attack.





TRAI had released over one million names, email IDs and the contents of their responses in a downloadable PDF format on the TRAI website for public viewing.

TRAI had earlier asked for responses from service providers, their associations and general public for their views on regulating OTT or over-the-top applications and services which are accessible over the internet. Their draft consultation paper also addressed issues about security concerns and net neutrality. They received more than a million responses.

The responses have been categorised into “Comments from Service Providers,” “Comments from Service Provider Associations” and “Comments from other stakeholders.” The responses from “other stakeholders”, namely the general public has been sorted datewise for “easy access.” One can search for a name or an Email ID with as simple a search command as Ctrl+F.

Comments in the third category is being updated as and when the comments for a particular date has been complied.

While this seems to be a standard procedure for all of TRAI’s consultation papers in the name of transparency, it has not gone down well with the general public, with some calling it “a blatant violation of privacy”. Several have also expressed their concerns over marketeers and spammers for whom the million plus emails are a goldmine.









TRAI is also accepting counter comments to the ones released until May 8, after which the body will be presenting its recommendations to the government.

There has been a raging debate over net neutrality over the last month. Here is a look at the latest developments:



Net neutrality

Net neutrality is a principle that says Internet Service Providers (ISPs) should treat all traffic and content on their networks equally.

How does net neutrality affect you?

The internet is now a level-playing field. Anybody can start up a website, stream music or use social media with the same amount of data that they have purchased with a particular ISP. But in the absence of neutrality, your ISP might favour certain websites over others for which you might have to pay extra. Website A might load at a faster speed than Website B because your ISP has a deal with Website A that Website B cannot afford. It’s like your electricity company charging you extra for using the washing machine, television and microwave oven above and beyond what you are already paying.

Why now?

Late last month, Trai released a draft consultation paper seeking views from the industry and the general public on the need for regulations for over-the-top (OTT) players such as Whatsapp, Skype, Viber etc, security concerns and net neutrality. The objective of this consultation paper, the regulator said, was to analyse the implications of the growth of OTTs and consider whether or not changes were required in the current regulatory framework.

What is an OTT?

OTT or over-the-top refers to applications and services which are accessible over the internet and ride on operators' networks offering internet access services. The best known examples of OTT are Skype, Viber, WhatsApp, e-commerce sites, Ola, Facebook messenger. The OTTs are not bound by any regulations. The Trai is of the view that the lack of regulations poses a threat to security and there’s a need for government’s intervention to ensure a level playing field in terms of regulatory compliance.

Comment

>Privileging telcos over netizens - Prabir Purkayastha The sort of closed Internet that TRAI is proposing, in defiance of the principle of net neutrality, is no longer on the discussion agenda in any country.

>Live Chat: The Hindu conducted a live chat on how net neutrality affects users. The panel included Pranesh Prakash from Centre for Internet and Society, Vijay Anand from The Start Up Centre and Sriram Srinivasan, The Hindu's Business Editor - Online.

Key players

  • Internet Service Providers like Airtel, Vodafone, Reliance...
  • The Telecom Regulatory Authority of India which lays down the rules for telecom companies
  • The Internet companies like Facebook, Google, whatsapp and other smaller startups
  • You, the consumer

The Hindu Editorials

  • > The importance of Net neutrality: Should the Internet be touched? That's one way to summarise the twenty questions the TRAI has asked the public in a recent consultation paper.
  • > Blow for Net neutrality: Flipkart had to contain the fallout after Airtel Zero was severely criticised by the proponents of Net neutrality, the principle that all Internet traffic has to be treated equally.

>News analysis: Flipkart and flipside

Is Flipkart so naive not to know the implications of Airtel Zero for the overall Internet ecosystem?

>Here's why you're wrong, Mr. Zuckerberg

The Facebook founder said universal connectivity and net neutrality can co-exist.

>Here's all you need to know on the issue

Missed the debate? A look at the issue of Net neutrality and the controversy surrounding it.

>Telecom Ministry to submit report by May 9

The government has set up a six-member committee to examine the issue of Net neutrality.



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Printable version | Jul 8, 2020 8:44:28 AM | https://www.thehindu.com/sci-tech/trai-makes-over-a-million-private-email-ids-public/article7146901.ece

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