Thursday, September 18, 2008

Dear TRAI. Give us free Wi-Fi hotspots instead of Wi-Fi security tips

TRAI is planning to issue guidelines to ISPs regarding wireless security following the recent bomb blasts.

Importantly, following the 21 blasts in Ahmedabad on July 26 which killed 55 and injured 100, TRAI had asked the government to direct all Internet Service Providers (ISPs) to instruct their customers to have ‘proper authentication measures’ so that this facility is not misused. “All ISPs may be instructed to ensure that their subscribers using wireless devices must use effective authentication mechanisms and permit access to internet to only authorised persons using wireless devices,” the regulator said in its earlier communication to the DoT.

We live in a world where governments no longer have any control over the flow of money or information. Trying to stop terrorists from using communications technology is well futile, but the TRAI is going to have a good crack at it, nevermind if it makes everyone's life more miserable and paranoid.

This new regulation sends a different message from our government. They won't bother providing free public wireless hotspots, because you know, that would be too much to ask as a tax payer, and the terrorists might just use it to plan their next bomb attack!. As an added measure, they're also going to make sure you don't share your wireless connection with friends or family.

No matter how much infrastructure is put in place to track/monitor net users, the terrorists will simply just up their game. They could plan their next raid on an MMORPG, as this article points out.

"Could terrorists use Second Life? Sure, they can use anything. But is it a significant augmentation? That's not obvious. It's a scenario that an intelligence officer is duty-bound to consider. That's all."

I don't know how ISPs plan to enforce the whole thing, most likely they will create mechanisms to prevent home users from having a Wi-Fi network. As a recent migrant to Reliance Broadnet, I know they're evil enough to use this opportunity to limit the number of machines on a home network, or charge a premium for each machine on the wireless network at home.

If that happens, the Terrorists win. :(


Sudipta Chatterjee said...

I think the TRAI is doing the right thing by asking people to keep their networks secure. And building wi fi hotspots around the country is not something the government should be spending money on right now. And if you want to link to more computers at your home, just install a router and turn the wireless functionality off!

Indian Home Maker said...

I agree that we should keep our wifi networks secured. If not terrorists - someone in our neighborhood can access our computers through an unsecured wifi network.

Indian Home Maker said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
Indian Home Maker said...

At the same time, there is no doubt that the government would attempt to restrict the number of machines on a home network. Or we'd have to pay for each machine being used. Just when the rates have become reasonable!!!
Trust our government and trai to find means to cash even this!
How does the USA manage this...I wonder?