TRAI website still down, hacking behind outage
TRAI has been under tremendous pressure for the last several weeks. The telecom regulator in the Indian market has been under pressure from common people to maintain net neutrality, while big business houses controlling telecom companies with hundreds of millions of users have been trying to impress upon it to have their way.
But the activists seem to have the last laugh till now, though it is not sure as to how they will continue to maintain the same sort of pressure they have managed till now. Big businesses have massive resources at their disposal and so they tend to lie low for some time and then rear their â€˜uglyâ€™ head when the activists are not that much active.
In the meantime earlier today the Telecom Regulatory Authority of India today made public all the comments received by it to a discussion paper floated last month, it showed that the support for ‘non-discriminatory and free internet’ largely came from individuals. As regulator TRAI firms up rules for â€˜net neutralityâ€™, telecom operators have suggested a licensing regime for over-the-top players like WhatsApp and Skype. However, technology service providers and individuals advocated for non-discriminatory access to internet.
There is no denying the fact that the issue of net neutrality has been widely debated in the recent past, within and outside Parliament, and TRAI had received nearly 10 lakhs comments from individuals, service providers and their associations, among others. As TRAI today made public all the comments received by it to a discussion paper floated last month, it showed that the support for â€˜non-discriminatory and free internetâ€™ largely came from individuals.
Meanwhile activists are angry. The Telecom Regulatory Authority of India (Trai) came in for flak on social media for making public the names and email IDs of everyone who had submitted their comments. Its website also crashed due to a high traffic flow. TRAI Secretary Sudhir Gupta said there was a network issue from National Informatics Centre (NIC), which manages the website for most regulators and government departments, although a little-known entity claimed to have hacked into its website. The website was restored later in the evening, but continued to witness access problems.
A few weeks ago, TRAI had invited comments till April 24 on its Net Neutrality consultation paper, while â€˜counter commentsâ€™ can be submitted till May 8 to the submissions made public today. An open house will be held subsequently. When asked about privacy concerns because of TRAI making public the names and email IDs, Gupta said, â€œWhatever we have received, we have uploaded on the website.â€ Responding to Traiâ€™s paper, telecom operators said over the top (OTT) players like WhatsApp and Skype are the same as licenced telecom service providers except for the difference that instead of offering their services through their own networks, OTT playersâ€™ service medium is internet.
In the meantime Airtel is trying to put pressure on mobile messaging services. â€œWhile it is important for OTT communication service providers to be brought under a regulatory framework on an urgent basis, OTT application services providers who are merely the end users of the internet need not be brought under any licensing/regulatory regime,â€ Bharti Airtel said. The â€˜end userâ€™ providers include apps prepared by the information dissemination websites, such as news and entertainment portals. Those who submitted their comments include Vodafone, Idea, Reliance Jio, Reliance Communications, COAI, Nasscom, ISPAI and Rajya Sabha MP Rajeev Chandrasekhar.
On the other hand another leading telecom company Vodafone India says, â€œThere is a pressing need to find a fair regulatory and commercial solution especially for VOIP telephony services, which if not addressed could endanger the entire Digital India programme of the Governmentâ€. â€œInternet Platforms and Services communications do not require licensing. There are user led evaluation reports that helps consumers make an informed choice as they adopt internet platforms and services,â€ Nasscom said. Telecom operators said they should be allowed to offer services based on mutual agreements with the OTT players.