Future of Internet, ICANN, IGF, Internet, Internet Governance, Internet Society, Multistakeholder Model, NetNeutrality, News, Social Media, technology, world wide web

Applications Open: Internet Society Ambassadors to the Internet Governance Forum

The twelfth annual meeting of the Internet Governance Forum (IGF) will be held in Geneva, Switzerland, from 18 to 21 December 2017, on the theme, Shape Your Digital Future!

The Internet Society’s IGF Ambassadors programme provides the following support to participants:

  • A round-trip, economy class airline ticket to attend the meeting
  • Hotel accommodation for the duration of the meeting
  • US$400 stipend to offset incidental expenses
  • A certificate of participation after successfully participating in the IGF Ambassadors programme.
Participants should be prepared to pay for any other travel expenses not specifically outlined above. These may include, for example, visa application fees, travel needed to obtain a visa, travel medical insurance, and other related expenses. To avoid undue expenses, it is best that applicants confirm that a host country visa-issuing embassy is available in their country or within close proximity before applying for the IGF Ambassadors programme. Ambassadors may wish to use part of the $400 stipend to offset incurred costs, but please be aware that the stipend is not paid until the Ambassador arrives at the meeting.

Those of the age group 20-40, with an interest in Internet Governance and a commitment to serve the Internet,  who wish to apply for this fellowship, follow the instructions at page https://www.internetsociety.org/what-we-do/education-and-leadership-programmes/next-generation-leaders/igf-ambassadors-programme

For any clarification, you can email India Chennai Chapter at isocindiachennai AT gmail dot com

Sivasubramanain M

censorship, Civil Liberties, Core Internet Values, Mobile, NetNeutrality, News, privacy, security, surveillance

Comments on the TRAI consultation Paper on Regulatory framework for Over the Top services

The Telecom Regulatory Authority of India has called for comments on its consultation paper on regulatory framework for Over the Top services, which is accessible at page http://trai.gov.in/WriteReaddata/ConsultationPaper/Document/OTT-CP-27032015.pdf

I have submitted the following comments:

Comments on the Consultation Paper on Regulatory frameworks for Over the Top Services

The Regulatory framework as proposed by the Telecom Regulatory Authority of India is an alarm. The Members of Parliament and the common man alike needs to be concerned about the implications of TRAI’s sphere or authority expanded to include the Internet which would interfere to alter the fundamental nature of the Internet:

  1. TRAI seeks to favor Telecom companies at the consumer’s expense by this proposal to alter the core architecture of the Internet, and the core values that make the Internet a free, open and universally accessible eco-system. Internet has transformed the way we do business, the way we all communicate and relate to each other – within and beyond borders. Internet has brought the world together by its end-to-end architecture without a centralized form of control. As an eco-system, it is far more advanced than Telegraphs and Telephones, mostly runs on a business model that is benevolent to all, treats all traffic from every person or organization, big or small, irrespective of nationality or ideology equally. With its architecture and its core values, Internet offers the common man’s greatest hope for freedom of expression and civil liberties and offers the greatest hope for participation in Democracy in its fullest form, minimize conflicts, bridge technological gaps as also bring in a certain degree of equity in the World economy. What TRAI proposes to do is to destroy the very foundations on which the Internet eco-system is built.
  2. The Telecom Authority wishes to bring the Internet as part of the Telecom Regulation. This would gradually bring in Telecom-like commercial model to the Internet for the benefit of the Telecom companies which would make the Internet very similar to the Cable TV in terms of the high price the consumer pays for access.
  3. These harmful commercial models would cause net neutrality to erode. Telecom companies would become gatekeepers of Internet Traffic, interfere in Network Traffic which has so far been free of centralized forms of control. Telecom companies would introduce fast-laning for paid traffic which would invariably lead to “throttling” of free traffic, and would lead to situations of extortionist pricing by Telecom companies. Internet would become far more expensive for the common man.
  4. This would invariably lead to an Internet of walled gardens wherein large Internet companies would contain their users within their sphere of services, making it difficult for users to access the major part of the Internet not offered as part of the services they are subscribed to.
  5. There are some security concerns about the way the Internet is abused by a certain section of users. Some of the security threats are real, but politicized by Governments to bring in an excessive framework of surveillance both for legitimate and excessively political reasons. The TRAI proposal would enhance the surveillance capabilities of Telecom Companies in the process of enabling Telecom companies to inspect Internet traffic in packets (Deep Packet Inspection) for commercial reasons. DPI could be the ulterior motive for Governments to favor telecom companies. TRAI’s proposal not only favors the Telecom companies, but unseen, makes it easy for the Law and Order Agencies to legally or otherwise monitor on the common man’s Internet usage.
  6. Regulators dislike the end to end architecture of the Internet with no centralized form of control and wish to alter the architecture in the guise of making the Internet more secure. There have been similar harmful proposals to regulate the Internet in various countries, voted out by public opposition, but these very proposals come back around sometime later by a different name in a different place. The TRAI proposal wraps up elements of such regulatory moves already voted out in other countries. Moreover, in India, Airtel proposed to charge differential rates for different types of traffic, which were withdrawn by overwhelming public opposition. This was a move by a Telecom company that merited TRAI to intervene against the proposal, but it wasn’t TRAI that stopped it. Instead, TRAI brings it back, this time seeking to enable this by Government directive. TRAI’s consultation paper reads like a business case for the Telecom companies printed on Government paper. Rather than look into the regulatory issues concerning how Telcom companies operate, the Regulatory Authority pleads their business case with total disregard to the fact that the Internet has actually brought in newer opportunities for the Telecom companies to enhance their revenues, and these companies are already profitable on the existing Data pricing models. TRAI’s paper misleads the policy makers and common man with the spurious argument that extortive pricing models are necessary to keep telecommunications companies in business. “The worst thing policy makers could do to the Internet would be to allow telecom companies to mess with the Internet.” TRAI appears to argue that the Telecom companies have a right to impose a fanciful pricing model. The paper is partial on Internet companies and misguides the reader with the notion that large Internet companies such as Google and Facebook are profitable at the expense of the cable and phone companies. The Telecom companies do not incur loss on account of OTT traffic, the truth is that the OTT services have opened up the opportunity for Telecom Companies to sell Data plans that have enhanced their revenues. As Deepak Shenoy argues “Data is in fact driving their revenues up, far more than anything else” http://capitalmind.in/2015/04/telecom-companies-are-not-losing-money-to-data-services-the-net-neutrality-debate/ )

Rather than expand its sphere of reach to Internet which requires a completely different thinking, TRAI could focus on the gaps in Telecom regulation:

A. Telecom regulations, even within the Telecom sphere, have restrained consumer experience. For example, sometime ago, TRAI restrained Telecom companies from having peering arrangements among themselves for switching 3G traffic. This affected seamless connectivity for customers on the move.

B. If TRAI is concerned about the cost of communication services to customers, it could work to recommend to the Government to free the Wireless spectrum. After the recent spectrum controversy on spectrum mismanagement and loss of revenues, the Government wanted to be seen being correct, so made the wireless spectrum pricey by auction. The revenues so determined, would serve to increase the cost of communication services to customers. TRAI could recommend that this money is not collected or returned if already collected.

C. TRAI has not looked in the practices of Telecom companies concerning the bandwidth they offer to consumers in India which averages 1 Mbps of nominal connectivity, actually amounting to 256 Kbps of average connectivity which on the mobile phone streams at less than 56 kbps on 3G most of the time in most locations. This is way below the standards of a hundred other countries around the world, while the price charged per connection is almost on par with the rest of the world, TRAI could look into this.

D. One of the reasons why Telecom companies find it relatively less profitable to operate is that even the largest of the Telecom Companies have outsourced Network Management to overseas Telecom / Technology companies. TRAI could assist the Telecom companies in building up the required technical capabilities to manage Networks on their own.

E. International Mobile roaming pricing, both for Voice and Data, by Indian telecom companies is prohibitively expensive are extortionistic. TRAI could look into the reasons and assist the Telecom companies in rationalizing the pricing plans for International roaming.

F. TRAI could look for solutions for 100% connectivity across India with receptiveness.

Sivasubramanian M
President
Internet Society India Chennai
http://isocindiachennai.org
http://twitter.com/shivaindia
6.Internet@gmail.com

Civil Liberties, Core Internet Values, IGF, Internet, NetNeutrality, News, security, surveillance

United Kingdom: Phone and email records to be stored in new spy plan

United Kingdom:  Details of every phone call and text message, email traffic and websites visited online are to be stored in a series of vast databases under new Government anti-terror plans.

Landline and mobile phone companies and broadband providers will be ordered to store the data for a year and make it available to the security services under the scheme.

The databases would not record the contents of calls, texts or emails but the numbers or email addresses of who they are sent and received by.

For the first time, the security services will have widespread access to information about who has been communicating with each other on social networking sites such as Facebook.

Direct messages between subscribers to websites such as Twitter would also be stored, as well as communications between players in online video games.

The Home Office is understood to have begun negotiations with internet companies in the last two months over the plan, which could be officially announced as early as May.

It is certain to cause controversy over civil liberties – but also raise concerns over the security of the records.

Access to such information would be highly prized by hackers and could be exploited to send spam email and texts. Details of which websites people visit could also be exploited for commercial gain.

The plan has been drawn up on the advice of MI5, the home security service, MI6, which operates abroad, and GCHQ, the Government’s “listening post” responsible for monitoring communications.

Rather than the Government holding the information centrally, companies including BT, Sky, Virgin Media, Vodafone and O2 would have to keep the records themselves.

Under the scheme the security services would be granted “real time” access to phone and internet records of people they want to put under surveillance, as well as the ability to reconstruct their movements through the information stored in the databases.

The system would track “who, when and where” of each message, allowing extremely close surveillance.

Mobile phone records of calls and texts show within yards where a call was made or a message was sent, while emails and internet browsing histories can be matched to a computer’s “IP address”, which can be used to locate where it was sent.

The scheme is a revised version of a plan drawn up by the Labour government which would have created a central database of all the information…

Labour shelved the project – known as the Intercept Modernisation Programme – in November 2009 after a consultation showed it had little public support…

But the security services have now won a battle to have the scheme revived because of their concern over the ability of terrorists to avoid conventional surveillance through modern technology.

They can make use of phone tapping but their ability to monitor email traffic and text messages is limited.

They are known to have lobbied Theresa May, the Home Secretary, strongly for the scheme. Their move comes ahead of the London Olympics, which they fear will be a major target for terror attacks, and amid a climate of concern about terrorists’ use of the internet.

… Sources said ministers are planning to allocate legislative time to the new spy programme, called the Communications Capabilities Development Programme (CCDP), in the Queen’s Speech in May.

But last night privacy campaigners warned the scheme was too open to abuse and could be used for “fishing trips” by spies.

Jim Killock, executive director of the Open Rights Group, a civil liberties campaign organisation, said: “This would be a systematic effort to spy on all of our digital communications.

“The Conservatives and Liberal Democrats started their government with a big pledge to roll back the surveillance state.

No state in history has been able to gather the level of information proposed – it’s a way of collecting everything about who we talk to just in case something turns up.”

There were also concerns about the ability of phone and Internet companies to keep the information secure.

And the huge databases could also be used by Internet service providers, particularly to work out which advertising to target at users.

Broadband firms including BT came up with a scheme almost three years ago to target advertising, but it did not get off the ground.

However, if companies were able to exploit the information they will be compelled to keep for the CCDP, they would be much more capable of delivering advertising to computers and even mobile phones based on users’ past behaviour.

Gus Hosein, of Privacy International, said: “This will be ripe for hacking. Every hacker, every malicious threat, every foreign government is going to want access to this.

“And if communications providers have a government mandate to start collecting this information they will be incredibly tempted to start monitoring this data themselves so they can compete with Google and Facebook.”

… from the Telegraph

censorship, IGF, Internet, NetNeutrality, News

S0PA: 387 Indian ISPs must block 104 piratical websites

Indian ISPs ordered to block 104 Websites image from arstechnica.comThe recent Stop Online Piracy Act (SOPA), considered and eventually abandoned by the US Congress after rancorous debate earlier this year, proposed giving judges the power to cut off American access to particular websites. Under the initial version of the bill, judges would have been able order Internet service providers to use only crude tools like DNS blocking to make piratical websites harder to access. The proposal was criticized strongly on grounds of practicality, due process, and free speech, but major rightsholders want such approaches implemented worldwide. In India, they have succeeded.

A Kolkata court has ordered all 387 Internet providers in the country to block a list of 104 websites after the Indian Music Industry (IMI) filed suit against them. Indian Music Industry officials filed information with the court showing that each of the 104 sites hosted at least some infringing material; the judges ruled that site blocking was a proper way of dealing with the issue. Four injunctions—on January 27, February 6, March 1, and March 2—implemented the blacklist.

Every one of the sites targeted by the music industry was ordered blocked. IMI officials have insisted to local media that they are targeting only the worst offenders, saying that they began their process with 300 websites and eventually narrowed it down to 104 of the most flagrant infringers.

As for how the blocks will be implemented, the court has allowed Internet providers three options: blocking by DNS name (“arstechnica.com”), blocking by IP address (“75.102.3.15”), or URL blocking by deep packet inspection (which can do things like block specific links like “arstechnica.com/bollywood”).

But site blocking on the Internet, though it sounds so seductively easy, comes with its own set of problems. Blocking by DNS can be circumvented simply by entering a site’s actual IP address instead of its name. Blocking by IP address can be bypassed by moving a site to a new server that carries a new IP address. URL blocking has little effect when an existing site simply changes its name.

These are hardly esoteric technical secrets. One of the first sites to be blocked, “songs.pk,” has rebranded itself “songspk.pk.” Confused users who turn to a Google search for answers will already find that link number one for “songs.pk” directs them to the new site.

Truly blocking sites from the Internet in this fashion remains difficult, though as usual the goal is more about making infringement more difficult than curtailing all illegal activity. European courts have on occasion required specific sites to be blocked, but those rulings have tended to target one site at a time, and have often been applied only to a single Internet provider. The Indian approach is far broader, and Internet companies like Facebook and Google are coming under legal pressure to censor far more material, including obscene images of gods and goddesses.

The first list of 104 sites largely focuses on regional music; it includes sites like apunkabollywood.com, bollywoodmp4.com, and lovepaki.com. IMI promises that its next targets will include more general-purpose file-sharing sites, however.

Reproduced from arstechnica

IFPI, the international music trade group, welcomed the ruling—but insisted that even such measures did not go far enough. “The court ruled that blocking is a proportionate and effective way to tackle website piracy,” said IFPI chief executive Frances Moore. “The Indian government should build on this progress by moving forward legislation to effectively tackle all forms of digital piracy to enable the country’s digital music market to reach its full potential.”

 

 

Future of Internet, Internet, NetNeutrality, News, surveillance, technology

Reporters without Borders name “Enemies of the Internet”

Bahrain and Belarus have been added to Reporters Without Borders’ annual list of “enemies of the internet” They join 10 other nations on the campaign group’s register of states that restrict net access, filter content and imprison bloggers.

India and Kazakhstan have also joined RWB’s list of “countries under surveillance” because of concerns that they are becoming more repressive. The body says 2011 was the “deadliest year” yet for so-called “netizens”. It says at least 199 arrests of internet campaigners were recorded over the year – a 31% increase on 2010. It adds that China, followed by Vietnam and Iran currently hold the largest number of netizens in jail.

Enemies of the Internet

“Enemies of the internet”

 

  • Bahrain
  • Belarus
  • Burma
  • China
  • Cuba
  • Iran
  • North Korea
  • Saudi Arabia
  • Syria
  • Turkmenistan
  • Uzbekistan
  • Vietnam

Bahrain’s government expressed a number of concerns about the report, which it said failed to “present the reality of the situation” there.

Several positive steps had been taken towards reforming the media sector since the publication of a report by the Bahrain Independent Commission of Inquiry (BICI) into last year’s crackdown on anti-government protests, it said, including relaxing censorship and increasing the range of political opinions in the media.

In Belarus, the campaign group says, President Alexander Lukashenko’s government has increased the number of blocked websites and arrested some bloggers while inviting others to “preventative conversations” with the police during which they are pressured not to cover protests.

It says the regime has also used Twitter to send messages designed to intimidate demonstrators. It adds that the country’s main internet service provider has diverted users to sites containing malware when they tried to log into the Vkontakte social network.

Elsewhere RWB accuses China and Syria of hiring bloggers to troll sites containing posts from cyber-dissidents, and then flood the pages with messages supporting the governments.

It raises concern that Iran’s President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad has announced plans to create a “clean” web with its own search engine and messaging service, and says Vietnam has attacked Catholic networks and campaigners trying to raise awareness about environmentally damaging bauxite mines.

From a BBC report