Update: It seems that TRAI’s website has been hit by a denial of service attack (DoS) and is currently down. A twitter handle by hacker collective Anonymous seems to have taken credit for the same. This is going to get messy.

Earlier: Fire up your spam filters NOW! Are you ready for this? Sit down. The Telecom Regulatory Authority of India (TRAI), in a stupendous move of babu-giri, has released the email ids of EVERYONE who replied to its consultation paper on net neutrality. Our response to this is a facepalm:

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No wait, that doesn’t cut it. Jesus thought it was stupid move.

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In case we weren’t clear,

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We get that government bodies strive to be transparent (hehe) and the effort is appreciated, but it makes no sense to make a million email ids public, which are now susceptible to spammers and scammers. TRAI started its consultation on net neutrality and licensing of services like WhatsApp on 27th March. While initially there were not many responses after web users realised that TRAI may allow telecom companies to breach net neutrality, the responses poured in by thousands.

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Savetheinternet.in, a website which was created to spread awareness of the issue, had simplified the response system for TRAI and allowed users to send an email reply via a two-click process. TRAI in its consultation paper had asked replies for 20 questions on the issue of net neutrality which essentially boiled down to two implications:

First, if there is licensing of Internet services, or even some Internet services, then it will impact the ability of Internet businesses and startups to remix multiple types of services like messaging and video: a fitness application linked to a band might need a government license in order to allow a customer to message a trainer, or a separate license to offer video within the application. This is what the TRAI calls “OTT licensing”.

Second, if telecom operators are allowed to discriminate between different Internet companies or types of Internet services, it will mean that some services which pay them will be faster and others slower, some might be more expensive to access and others cheaper, and some might be more visible or accessible than others.

While the jury is out on the final verdict, we hope TRAI can rectify the situation ASAP. Publishing responses is great for transparency but the privacy of citizens needs to be in place. Clearly, something the government agency does not understand.