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TRAI website hacked after telecom authority makes mockery of Indian privacy laws by putting one million Email IDs online

In the eagerness to prove its neutrality, TRAI not only made all the responses to its paper public, but most surprisingly in a huge gaffe, even put all the million e-mail ids on its website

As the Net Neutrality debate raged on, TRAI Chairman Rahul Khullar, had said , a few days back, that shrill voices will not win the Net Neutrality debate. While shrill voices may not win the debate, hollow voices can never ever win the debate. And TRAI did something today that will always make its voice sound hollow and weak.

In the eagerness to prove its neutrality, TRAI not only made all the responses to its paper public, but most surprisingly in a huge gaffe, even put all the million email IDs on its website. In some cases, even the mobile numbers of the concerned people were made public. Netizens were naturally hugely upset about TRAI’s action, with some individuals asking if they could file a case against TRAI for breach of trust, privacy and confidentiality. The sarcasm was evident in many tweets.

 

Noted columnist, Vir Sanghvi tweeted, “Congrats TRAI on releasing the mail ids of everyone who mailed you about net neutrality. Now we know how well you protect Internet users .”

Netizen Akshay Bhatt, tweeted, “TRAI has solution for all. Companies will get high tariffs , people will get net neutrality and spammers will get 1M emails.”

Kawaljit Singh Bedi, CTO, NDTV.com, with the twitter handle, @kawaljit, tweeted, “Thanks TRAI for sharing everyone’s email id. I am sure the spammers will love you.”

Surprisingly, it did not reveal the e-mail ids of any of the Service Providers or the Service Providers Association. Nikhil Pahwa, who has been one of the leading voices in evangelizing the concept of Net Neutrality in India, tweeted, “FYI, the email IDs of telecom operators not available. TRAI has been selective in releasing email IDs”

In a retaliatory move, the Anonymous India Group hacked TRAI with a DDos attack and completely took the website down. The group said that it had taken the site down to protect the e-mail ids of innocent netizens from being scammed.

Tweeting from the handle, @opindia_revenge, Anonymous India said, “So those who still think that #TRAi can “handle” the Internet, we just proved you wrong. They just got trolled by bunch of kids.#Incompetence”. The group highlighted TRAI’s lethargy by tweeting that the authority had not done anything to protect the email IDs even after the site was hacked.

By releasing the email IDs publicly, TRAI has shown little respect for the privacy of Indian users who had given their views on Net Neutrality and participated in a public debate. The irony is that even after the site was hacked after a warning, TRAI has still not rectified its mistake and at the time of writing this piece, the author could still access these email ids. It is also ironic that TRAI talks about regulating security, safety and privacy of consumers using OTT apps, but does not have a clue on how to handle privacy itself.

Whichever way the Net Neutrality debate goes, one thing is for sure – TRAI has surely lost its voice.

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