In a very shocking incident TRAI (Telephone Regulatory Authority of India) has published the email id’s of more than 10 lac people supporting the net neutrality campaign in India. Of late, the debate over net neutrality drew a lot of attention, and over a million people showed their support for net neutrality by sending a mail to TRAI to stop taking any initiative that would imbalance the neutrality. If you had a great feeling by sending a mail to TRAI to show your support, looking at this news you might have a little hiccup now.
As per the available information, TRAI has unknowingly published the name and email address of everyone who supported net neutrality, while releasing a draft consultation paper for all the OTT services to take the feedback of all the stakeholders involved. With this, our entire email id’s are now out in the open for the spammers to fill up our inbox. However, TRAI is now awaiting responses from different stakeholders that has to be sent to [email protected], which will be accepted till May 8.
This is a serious breach of privacy, as the e-mail list is now openly available on TRAI’s website without any sort of security behind it. Analysts and experts, who have voiced their frustration on Twitter regarding TRAI’s ridiculous move, fear that such publicly available data could be easily used for spamming by various brands out there.
Justifying the ridiculous step, the regulatory body is now trying to clarify that it has received large number of comments from the stakeholders on its Consultation paper on “Regulatory Framework for OTT services”. Hence in order to, “to aid the reading of comments”, TRAI has divided them into three blocks
- Comments from the service providers
- Comments from the service providers’ association
- Comments from other stakeholders’ (includes individuals, organizations, consulting firms etc).
And if this wasn’t enough, TRAI has now asked all “stakeholders” to send “counter comments” to [email protected] by including ‘counter comments’ in the subject of the email. Looks like TRAI hasn’t received enough of slamming already. Twitter erupted with criticism over this step, with most highlighting spamming as the major fear.
BRAVO, TRAI for exposing a million plus email IDs of those who mailed U. And we shd trust U & the calls u take? pic.twitter.com/OOI7UeyFLk
— Rajesh Kalra (@rajeshkalra) April 27, 2015
— Vikram Chandra (@vikramchandra) April 27, 2015
— scroll.in (@scroll_in) April 27, 2015
TRAI website hacked after it reveals email ids of net neutrality debate contributors Click: http://t.co/zjoP9UVmpp
— ABP News (@abpnewstv) April 27, 2015
For email marketers, this kind of database is worth a lot of money, and you can be certain that by the time you read this, the PDFs published by Trai have already been scanned and all the details saved by various unscrupulous companies, and everyone on that list can expect a barrage of spam. Understandably, Trai needed to show the authenticity of the emails it was displaying as feedback, and needed to make the list searchable by individuals so you can find your own mail amongst the million plus letters that Trai received. The debate surged up several levels, when Flipkart and Airtel announced a sponsored partnership, wherein Airtel would have promoted Flipkart as a primary service on its to-be launched Airtel Zero platform.
The report adds that looking at the million responses, a Colombo-based think-tank LIRNEasia has offered Trai solutions like ‘word clouds, opinion mining and semantic analysis, all based on natural language processing’. Imagine if Airtel decided to deny Internet access to people who have spoken out against Airtel Zero ?.