Trying times for Trai website

The website of the Telecom Regulatory Authority of India (Trai) remained inaccessible a day after it was hacked by Anonymous India for displaying details, including email IDs and names of around a million people who wrote to it on Net neutrality.

By Our Special Correspondent
  • Published 29.04.15
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New Delhi, April 28: The website of the Telecom Regulatory Authority of India (Trai) remained inaccessible a day after it was hacked by Anonymous India for displaying details, including email IDs and names of around a million people who wrote to it on Net neutrality.

Trai officials said the website servers were down and the regulator was working to "restore the site". They did not comment on whether the personal details would be removed from the site.

Analysts said the names needed to be disclosed because the consultation process had to be transparent but publishing the email IDs was unnecessary. The website allowed downloading of the entire document with the IDs.

After being severely criticised on Monday by social media for disclosing the IDs, which exposed over a million people to spamming and unsolicited marketing emails, Trai was under attack from the Congress today that asked the government to investigate the issue.

"Trai putting up the list of names and email addresses of Net activists on its website is akin to a bank making the account details of its customers public," Congress member Gaurav Gogoi today said during zero hour in the Lok Sabha. "This will expose these Net activists to hackers."

According to Trai's privacy policy, "Trai-website does not automatically capture any specific personal information from you, (such as name, phone number or email address), that allows us to identify you individually. We do not sell or share any personally identifiable information volunteered on the Trai-website to any third party (public/private). Any information provided to this website will be protected from loss, misuse, unauthorised access or disclosure, alteration or destruction."

The policy essentially implies that Trai should not have made public any personally identifiable information.

Net neutrality implies equal treatment to all Internet traffic and any priority given to an application or a company on a payment basis is seen as violating the concept.

A government-appointed panel is looking into these concerns and is likely to submit its report next month.