Is Ring Tone Download Legal?

In the recent days there has been an increasing use of "Downloaded Ring Tones" by mobile users in India and elsewhere.... With a growing awareness of Intellectual Property Rights the Indian Music Industry has started raising objection to the practice of ring tones being composed out of music scored for films and cassettes without the specific permission of the copyright owner. ..More

VSNL withdraws ban on yahoo groups..and reimposes

According to report from the users of VSNL account, they are now (27th September 2003, 21.30 hrs) able to access yahoo groups. Dishnet is still continuing the block and also continues to display a note on the website that the blocking of is as per Government order which is a blatant lie. ..See the snapshot of the home page of;  x

P.S: It appears that VSNL has reimposed the block in Chennai...30/09/2003

CERT-In Shifts Blame to Incompetence of ISPs

Officially CERT-In has clarified that its intention was to block only one single group of Yahoo namely kynhun but the ISPs have blocked the whole yahoo group domain. Technical views are divided as some ISPs admit they have been able to selectively block the group while the larger ISPs seem to disagree. The larger ISPs also have a vested interest in hurting Yahoo in general since it competes with the ISPs in certain portal related business. Perhaps this could be the reason for the ISPs blocking the entire groups domain of yahoo.

In the meantime, while IT Act may provide rights for CERT-In for blocking an offending site, we need to look at Consumer laws which may make censorship of other sites an offence. If so who is accountable for it..the ISPs? or CERT-In?.. Another question that can be raised in this context is,  if CERT-In cannot provide a solution to ISPs for selective blocking, how can the country rely on their competence for providing security for the Indian Cyber space? ..Related Article in CIOL

Communication Convergence Bill to be Dropped

After several years of deliberation it has been decided by GOI to shelve the present draft of the Communication Convergence Bill. Work will start on drafting of an alternative legislation to meet the needs. Though various reasons have been stated for the dropping of the Bill, the most plausible reason was the inter-ministerial differences of opinion on controlling the huge Convergence sector. With Mr Arun Shourie still set in the role of the Disinvestment Minister, IT ministry is already suffering from lack of direction and the burden of a merged broadcasting ministry was perhaps felt a little too much  on the MOC& IT. ....Details in DH, Related Article in FE

Smart Cards for Citizen ID..Let's Not Build Castles in the Air

The Smart cards Expo in New Delhi has thrown up many marketing gauntlets for the GOI to bite as regards introduction of Smart Cards for Citizen ID.

One of such gauntlets has been the idea that every one of the one billion Indian will have a smart card with an embedded digital certificate so that he can even get an online passport in a day or two. (Ref: Enclosed report in The Hindu).

If the GOI accepts the suggestion, ... The total cost ... would be  over Rs 17,000 crores.....Digital Certificates themselves would cost  Rs 50,000 crores..

Under such circumstances, talking of the advantages of Smart Cards to hold Digital Signatures and pushing the Citizen ID card project is nothing but building castles in the air. ...More

Blocking of Yahoo-Groups- Ignorance? or Arrogance?

When it was pointed out in these columns on the 18th that Yahoo groups had been blocked by Dishnet, it was more an amusing reflection of what was believed to be an error about to be set right once it was brought to the notice of the relevant authorities. It was also presumed that it was a mistake of Dishnet DSL as an ISP.

However a week further down it appears that the blocking of the domain has not only remained but has extended to the whole of India. It is no longer an issue of an ISP's over zealous reaction to a shabby order from a division of the GOI but a larger issue of "Freedom of Speech" and a Gross Ignorance of the consequences of the said order on the part of  GOI and its expert arm CERT-IND." ...More

Smart Cards and Their Limitations

Smart Card based solutions are popular in many Banking and E-Governance applications and India is getting ready to a huge investment on Smart Cards in its Citizen ID project. The use of Smart Cards is basically recommended for the higher security that it is proposed to provide for a solution.

It is however necessary to recognize that like many other IT solutions Smart Cards have a cost and unless the application justifies the cost and there are no cheaper alternative, there is no need to adopt Smart Cards for a given solution...More

Yahoo Groups Blocked by Dishnet

Government of India (MIT) has by an order dated 10/09/03 blocked the website "". Even though the block order was for a particular group, Dishnet has blocked the entire domain thus blocking all groups including cyberlaws4india group. The exact reasons for the blocking are not known. It also appears that VSNL Chennai has not blocked the site. They have either ignored the order or have implemented it only for the specific group. The home page of the group does not indicate any significant activity or activity inimical to India. It would have been better for MIT to have been transparent on the reasons for the blocking as this has resulted in a censorship of the entire yahoo groups domain.....More

Dishnet DSL..Is there a Bandwidth Diversion?

Of late,It has been found that Dishnet DSL connection in Chennai is prone to a peculiar disconnection problem.  It was my personal experience that for the last three days (September 12-14) the connection went off by around 6.00 p.m and returned next day morning around 8.00 pm. During most of this time, the connection was fully off and the link was down. For some time the link appeared to be on but the connection could not be established. The break was continuous and not intermittent.  The Company has not given any explanation except that it could be due to electrical disturbance of any nearby electrical transformer or a cable fault. While the fault seems to have been  rectified today (September 15th) a response time of  three days to rectify a fault seems too long in this 24X7 industry.

It is not however clear how a Cable fault or an electrical disturbance can be time bound. The more probable reason could be either that the bandwidth was being  deliberately  diverted or the Company was short of terminators at their end and perhaps shutting out some to keep others going.

I am not sure how widespread is this problem but would invite comments and  information if any body else in Chennai or elsewhere have experienced similar problems.

It is high time that in the interest of consumers, TRAI ensures that  ISP s  deliver their service to  some minimum acceptable standards.  ....Naavi

Related Article in BL dated 22rd September

College Students Pay US $ 12000 to 17500 for swapping Music

The suits filed by RIAA against students for uploading copyrighted music has resulted in some of them entering into settlements at US $ 12000 to US $ 17500. (Equivalent to RS 6 lakhs to Rs 8.75 lakhs). Obviously, price of Cyber Law Ignorance appears to be getting higher and higher..Details at ET..12 year old fined US $2000  More on the first settlement

Should Cyber Law Awareness be made Mandatory for Netizens?

A discussion has started in US about the need to provide a minimal Cyber Law Awareness to all Netizens so as to prevent misuse of the Internet. Details at ET

It may be noted that Naavi's Certificate course in "Cyber Law Awareness for Netizens" as well as his lectures on "Cyber Crimes- How To Protect Against them" tries to precisely achieve this.

A Vindication of Gator?

In what could be a significant judicial decision on Cyber Advertising, a District Court in USA has ruled that "Popping up a rival Company Ads when Netizen's visit a website is not illegal". The court came to this conclusion since the user had downloaded a software for such a service implying his consent. Details in ET

E2 Labs starts School of Ethical hacking

Hyderabad based E2 Labs is reported to have set up a school of Ethical Hacking to formally impart training for interested Cyber Savvy youngsters to turn into Cyber Security professionals. A good intentioned Development which however needs some regulation to prevent such schools turning out to be the breeding ground for Crackers. Further it is important to realize that in India, there is no legal recognition for Ethical Hacking and it is not unthinkable however unjustified it may seem that the trained "Ethical Hackers" may actually be Hackers as defined under iTA-2000.  Details at ET

Government to Promote IT Education

The Ministry of Communication and Information Technology has finalized the plans for promoting IT Education focusing on Cyber Security following the recommendations of a working group which made a detailed recommendations some time back...Details in ET

Cyber Remedy for Fake Stamp Papers

Naavi who has successfully obtained a global patent approval for is in the process of completing the formalities for another Patent on Digital Value Imprinted Instrument System. This system which has universal application for payment processing on the Internet has applications in E-Governance sector and has the potential for significantly bringing down the costs of many projects. It also has wide applications in the Banking sector. E-Governance service companies from abroad have also elicited interest in the product which has capabilities of being served as a BPO product.

Report in Deccan Chronicle on Naavi's Digital Stamp System.

LIC Installs 25000 Linux Desktops

The recent virus exploits seem to have turned the attention of Computer users to the advantages of Linux. It is reported that Academia and Corporate world are increasing the share of Linux usage in their systems as this report in TOI bears out.

China Blocks Spam Servers

China's Internet police has blocked 127 spam servers around the world in the latest move to fight the increasing amount of junk mail on the web. It is time India follows suit.

Details in HT

Ministry Officials Refuse to Budge on CAS-Pay Channels to further hike the rates ?

The Officials of the Central Government I & B ministry met officials of the TN Government and representatives of the Consumer associations and according to press reports have reiterated their desire to introduce CAS. However, no immediate solution has been proposed on how the monopoly in the distribution would be controlled.

The ball now seems to have moved over to the TN officials who has to clarify how they would restrict the monopoly position of the distribution industry which incidentally will be strengthened by the introduction of STBs....More

Report in Hindu on 10th September 2003

WTC Anniversary..Prepare for Virus Attacks

While we mourn the tragedy of September 11th, it would not be out of place to think that there could be a massive Cyber attack on US information assets to mark the anniversary. In order not to get caught in the crossfire, Indian Netizens should shore up their defenses particularly against Viruses. Apart from using personal firewalls such as Zone Alarm, Mcafee's US$19.95 offer for Version 7.0 of its anti virus software can be considered.

To be doubly careful, It may be better to shut down Outlook express for the day and open only urgent source  recognized mails through web-mail interface only. After surveying the market news on the following day and updating the anti virus software they may resume normal operations. It is also desirable to avoid visiting unknown websites and disable active X in the browser.

Related Article in IE: Related Article in HT

RIAA Files suit against 261 individuals

The Recording Industry Association of America (RIAA) confirmed having filed cases against 261 individuals for swapping copyrighted songs. Simultaneously, RIAA is holding out an amnesty offer for those who voluntarily would like to offer a written apology. Observers have however warned the public of the damaging consequences of such an affidavit.

An Analyst from Forrester is reported to have said  "An individual who settles with the RIAA is likely to end up paying in the range of US$10,000 to $30,000 dollars, "An individual who does not settle is liable somewhere in the $100,000 per downloaded song range. Fighting and losing a lawsuit against the RIAA "could bankrupt an individual forever," . The choices are therefore scary.

While many in the industry feel that this will revive the market for CDs, it is distinctly possible that the habit of listening to music on the Net or through CD, itself may decline and Netizens may shift to online gaming to replace the habit. RIAA may therefore rue its decision to pursue their legal options against the Netizens in the days to come. ... .Related Article in, ISP's face Subpoena

Hyperlinks to Copyright Material Legal

A Netherland Court has ruled that hyperlinks to Copyrighted material are not illegal. Upholding the rights of a Dutch writer to post links to the material in of the Church of Scientology, the Court dismissed the appeal of the Church. This should remove the misgivings in the minds of many publishers about the legality of hyperlinks.....Details at XS4all

E-Cinema Makes its Debut in Maharashtra

In a significant development that will change the way Film Industry runs in India, 8 cinema houses in Maharashtra are reported to have installed Digital Projectors at a cost of RS 15 lakh each and are capable of using Encrypted Digital Prints for projection. The prints are controlled for the number of times they can be shown and if the security system works, it is a very cost effective way of distributing the prints. This is a huge step towards Convergence of Cinema and IT.

Perhaps the next step where the digital print is transferred in the real time via a satellite dish from a central location is also not far off. ...Details in ET

Beware of the FEDEX Refund Process Offer

It may be a  new Internet fraud that has hit the Indian market. The modus operandi of the fraud starts with an e-mail stating that there is a business opportunity in "Processing of Refund Claims" arising out of late delivery of packages by FEDEX. While the scheme like many other similar schemes is technically possible, there is an upfront fees of around $39.95 that makes it suspect. FEDEX India has so far failed to react to a query by Naavi and Netizens are warned to be vary of such schemes.

Stamp Frauds..Here is a Solution...

The arrest and subsequent suspension of a TDP MLA, Mr C.Krishna Yadav (Details at Deccan Chronicle) has once again brought to the fore the rampant fraud in the Stamps market which is estimated to have siphoned of more than Rs 10,000 crores in few of the Southern States alone.

In this context, it is necessary to place before the E-Governance officials of AP, information on a system that has been designed by Naavi to meet the requirements of the Governments to collect Stamp Duty with the use of IT.

This patent pending system can achieve  a substantial risk reduction to the Government while at the same time increasing the convenience to the customers. The lack of a proper system of selection of E-Governance projects based on cost benefit and the systemic problems in dealing with Patent protected technology in E-Governance projects has been delaying the adoption of this solution by State Governments. Hopefully , AP should now look at the solution as a measured response to the growing menace of the Stamp Fraud.

For details contact Naavi

When Prembandhan Turns Sour

Two ex-employees of an US Subsidiary maintaining a matrimonial website were reportedly arrested in Chennai on 6th September for allegedly hacking into the website of the company and deleting information. They have been charged under Section 65 and Section 66 of the ITA-2000..Details at IE

The case of where giving pink slips to its key employees resulted in turn to the employees giving a slip to the company's database, highlights the need for E-Enterpreneurs to secure Information Assets. It also highlights how HRD decisions have immediate consequences on Security of Information Assets. has been warning E-Enterpreneurs about such Cyber Risks and advocating use of Naavi's Cyber Law Compliancy service to reduce such risks.

Is This the Consumer Friendly CAS that the PM Promised?

When the problems associated with CAS was brought to the notice of the Prime Minister Mr Vajapayee a few weeks before the implementation of the scheme, he had instructed the Ministry of Information and Broadcasting to ensure that the scheme was "Consumer Friendly"...As long as their is no freedom for the people to chose the MSO, all the talk of "Consumer Friendly" regime is an eye wash...It must be said that the BJP is doing a great disservice to the Chennai population through the CAS system and unless they wake up in time, they will have to pay a heavy political price for their indiscretion....More

"Yes to CAS and No to STB" or "Yes to STB and No to CAS?"

It has been a harrowing experience for Chennai consumers of the Cable TV service after the introduction of CAS in the city. ..Consumers came up with a strange conclusion in a recent meeting "Say Yes for CAS but No for STB"...where as it appears that the operators prefer to have only STB regime and if possible STB without CAS rather than CAS without STB....More

E-Governance Projects and Reduction of Cost

E-Governance sector is estimated to be one of the highest IT spending areas in India in the coming years. It is a sector which could sustain the growth of many IT companies. However, funds available with the Government are always finite and any conservation of investment is beneficial to the community in the long run. Quite often however, E-Governance projects tend to spend more than necessary due to the vendor pressure on the bureaucracy where following "Procedures of Tendering" is more important than "Finding Cost effective solutions".

Overspending in E-Governance projects can be seen in the inappropriate choice of technology particularly those which bind the Government to the buying of proprietary hardware. One example of such a project is the overuse of "Smart Cards" in many E-Governance projects.

Naavi's patent pending invention of "Digital Value Imprinted Instrument System" enables substantial cost reduction in many e-Governance projects such as Digital Stamps, Vehicle Registration Records Maintenance, Driver License systems etc. and is available for collaborative execution.  Naavi welcomes enquiries from any IT Company or Government Departments interested in implementing the project.   ...Details

STBs required even for Free Channels??

As the CAS regime entered the third day in Chennai, .... Consumers have started organizing themselves to express their opposition to the move. Are Chennaites being taken for granted?, If it is anti-people in Delhi, is it not so in Chennai also?, Will it Not Create a  Monopoly?, Are Costs going  to Double?, Will the Technology Become Obsolete?, Is it Legal?.. Why are Political Parties in Chennai Silent?..were some of the questions that were debated in a consumer forum organized by the activist M.B.Nirmal in Chennai today (3rd September 2003).

What finally caught the participants of the debate by surprise was the revelation that the Cable TV operators and MSOs have a plan of making it compulsory for STB's to be purchased even if consumers decide to stay only with free channels.

The forum decided on an action plan to stop the introduction of STBs through public resistance, Government intervention and legal action....More

CAS Rolls Out in Chennai

September 1, 2003, officially became the day of launching of the Conditional Access System with Chennai becoming the first city to be brought under the scheme. The scheme which requires purchase of a Set Top Box (STB) costing around Rs 3500-4500 to receive the Pay Channels got off to a confused start. With Delhi, Kolkata and Mumbai resisting the introduction, Chennai became the only city in India adopting the regime.

But with no information on the rates of the channels and the continued duopoly of MSO s, and no regulatory framework in place, it was a confused start for the new scheme. Many in Chennai would consider it a relief to view only fewer channels at a much reduced monthly price of RS 72/- (+taxes) rather than paying over Rs 250/-.

SET (Sony entertainment Television) seems to think that it can stimulate the purchase of STBs through value added services including "Content on Demand". But CAS supporters should realize that they are supporting an unnecessary technology since the Internet is already capable of serving on demand video content if the issue of bandwidth is resolved. SET is more than aware of the possibility in view of its tie up with Penta Soft's Num TV. It appears that Consumers are being taken for a ride in this CAS mis-adventure.


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