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Net Neutrality: Mobile apps can impact national security, says TRAI paper

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By NewsGram Staff Writer

As the debate on Net Neutrality issue gets heated up, a discussion paper proffered by Telecom Regulatory Authority of India (TRAI) stated that mobile applications providing free internet-based calls and messaging services can be a threat to individual and national security.

The paper, which was put forth in public domain on March 27, 2015, focused on imploring comments from all stakeholders for framing rules on net neutrality and on regulation of Over-the-Top service providers such as Skype, Whatsapp, Google Talk and Viber.

“Most applications can trace the user’s location for underlying processes (such as GPS apps finding the nearest restaurants). This information may be used to commit a crime, or the location itself may be the target of a crime. Such threats can impact the nation’s security and financial health,” stated the TRAI paper.

It was also added by the paper that the so-called free apps actually share mobile apps users’ personal information with various third party developers, which can pose serious threats. “Recently, Facebook manipulated information posted on 689,000 users’ home pages and found it could make people feel more positive or negative through a process of emotional contagion,” said the paper.

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Will enquire into Facebook demanding users’ Aadhaar details: Minister

The Minister said that he will inquire about the claims and very soon the government will bring data protection law.

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Facebook has over 217 million monthly active users in India and 212 million of them are active on smartphones. Pixabay
Facebook has over 217 million monthly active users in India and 212 million of them are active on smartphones. Pixabay
Electronics and Information Technology Minister Ravi Shankar Prasad on Friday said he will “get the entire facts” about social networking site Facebook reportedly demanding new users’ Aadhaar and revert to Parliament.
“I have also seen the news (about Facebook) in media. They have also given a reply that it was not mandatory. But I will get the entire facts on record before I revert to you,” Prasad told the Rajya Sabha in response to a supplementary question on cybersecurity and data protection.
The Minister also said that the government is going to bring very soon a data protection law.
It was reported a few days back that new users trying to sign up for Facebook were asked to enter their name “as per Aadhaar” records.
However, Facebook has already clarified that it was “not collecting” the Aadhaar data and was just running a “small test” to weed out fake accounts.
“There have been a number of reports about a small test we ran in India to help new users sign up for Facebook. Some have interpreted this test as a request for people’s Aadhaar information when you sign up for a Facebook account. This is not correct,” Facebook said in a blog post on Wednesday.
The government will be soon be introducing Data Protection law. Source: Aadhar Card Kendra
The government will be soon be introducing Data Protection law. Source: Aadhar Card Kendra
 “The test, which has now finished, merely includes additional language on the account sign-up page to explain that using their Aadhaar name will help family and friends recognise them.
“We are not collecting Aadhaar data and do not require people to enter their Aadhaar name when they sign up to Facebook,” it added.
Earlier, Prasad said that the government has no plans to make internet availability a fundamental right but the government is “committed to providing internet connectivity to its citizens”.
“As per a report from TRAI, as on June 2017, India has over 431.21 million internet users and with several million new internet users joining every month.
“This has resulted in more and more Indians coming online and using the internet, giving them the freedom to experience and use the internet in every aspect of their lives,” Prasad said in the reply.
“Our ‘Digital India’ programme envisions transforming India into a digitally empowered society and knowledge economy.
“The pillars of Digital India programme namely Broadband Highways, Universal Access to Mobile Connectivity and Public Internet Access Programme address the issue of Internet availability in the country,” he added. IANS