Net Neutrality debate: TRAI makes all responses public, including 1mn email IDs

TRAI, has now made all the responses it got on its controversial paper on Net Neutrality, public and revealed many email IDs.

Written by Shruti Dhapola | New Delhi | Updated: April 28, 2015 8:31 am
Net Neutrality, Net Neutrality in India, TRAI chief said shrill voices won’t be allowed to win the Net Neutrality debate.

The Telecom Regulatory Authority of India (TRAI), has now made all the responses to its paper on the need to regulate OTTs like WhatsApp, etc, available for the public. You can read TRAI’s paper here.

TRAI has reportedly received over 10 lakh responses to its paper and has now put out all the responses, including email ids on its website. You can view the information that TRAI has put out here.

TRAI has divided the comments into three sections- Comments from the Service Providers; Comments from the Service Providers’ Association, and Comments from other Stakeholders (which includes the regular folks, tech start-ups, etc.)

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The problem with this is that if you’ve sent an email to TRAI on the subject of Net Neutrality, your email ID is now in the public domain and thus the TRAI has handed spammers an early Christmas present. While it is understandable that TRAI was going to make the responses on Net Neutrality public, they could have kept the email-ids as hidden. A few asterisks after the first few letters is not asking for too much.

By making email IDs public, TRAI has shown scant regard to all those users who had contributed to the public debate. Transparency is fine, but ignoring user privacy is simply not acceptable as it has happened in this case. In an age where email ids are linked to social media accounts like Twitter, Facebook, Linkedin and even with banks, exposing so many ids, carries many consequences.

Spammers and phishers now have access to a million valid email ids and they can send fraudulent mails to many unsuspecting users. In a country, where digital literacy is still in its infancy period, such carelessness will only increase cyber-crime.

The Net Neutrality debate was topic of much interest both on social media and the mainstream news. The debate saw Flikpart face strong backlash for joining the Airtel Zero programme, the company later withdrew from it, saying it would support Net Neutrality.  Comedy group AIB’s video on Net Neutrality even went viral online.

Meanwhile Telecom watchdog TRAI Chairman Rahul Khullar had earlier said  that “shrill voices” will not win the debate and the concept is not “practiced strictly” even in countries like the US and the UK.

“There has to be democratic debate. It’s a debate that is waiting to happen. Shrill voices do not win debate. Cool headed reasoned arguments on both sides are need of the hour,” Khullar had told PTI in an interview.

While TRAI’s final comments on the matter are waiting, there’s no doubt that the regulator’s move to make so many email IDs public is not the smartest one.

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