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Open Wi-Fi May Become Illegal In India

timothy posted more than 5 years ago | from the remember-to-punish-the-innocent-first dept.

Communications 179

chromoZ writes with word that because of the serial blasts in Indian cities (and terrorist outfits claiming responsibility via email, often sent via Cyber Cafes and open Wi-Fi spots), sharing unsecured wireless access may get much tougher in India: "The Telecom Regulatory Authority of India (TRAI) after studying open Wifi networks is coming up with a set of guidelines and recommendations to secure them. '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.' An open Wi-Fi could be as much as illegal in India after this."

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179 comments

Proxies (4, Insightful)

Lucky75 (1265142) | more than 5 years ago | (#25038841)

What about proxies or tunnels then?

And of the cows and rats and (-1, Offtopic)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#25039543)

other vermin and pestulance clogging the Ganges? That is one stinkin' place.

What is it with the cows?

What is it with the rats?

What is it with NatGeo forcing me to watch?

mail box (3, Insightful)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#25038873)

Wont they use the mail box down the street?.

Solution: authorize everyone (5, Funny)

noidentity (188756) | more than 5 years ago | (#25038877)

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.

Simple solution: authorize everyone with WiFi capability to access your network. The authentication is very strong, as anyone without WiFi capability will absolutely not be allowed to connect.

Re:Solution: authorize everyone (2, Interesting)

idontgno (624372) | more than 5 years ago | (#25039019)

That fails the "authenticate" requirement. In fact, it completely ignores that authentication (clearly and accurately ascertaining the identity of the connection user) is intended to be a mandatory precondition to access.

By analogy (not a car analogy, sorry), if you operate a liquor store and your local jurisdiction imposes an age-verification requirement (authenticate purchaser's age) before you can make a sale of an intoxicating controlled beverage (authorize the transaction), your solution is to ignore the "carding" requirement and sell to whomever you feel like. Which works great until the authorities haul you off to jail.

At best, you can argue that this is civil disobedience. More likely, it's just scoffing at the law. But it's not a solution.

What are you supposed to authenticate? (1, Insightful)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#25039787)

With the drink, it's "authenticate the age".

With wifi, is it "authenticate they are not a terrorist"?

Re:What are you supposed to authenticate? (4, Insightful)

idontgno (624372) | more than 5 years ago | (#25040651)

With the drink, it's "authenticate how old they are."

With wifi, it's "authenticate who they are."

See, the parallel construction works just fine. It's not that much of a stretch.

Now, within the letter of this "law", you could still allow "anonymous" access:

WAP: "Who are you?"
User: "I'm A. Nony Mouse".
WAP, to himself: "Is 'A. Nony Mouse' allowed access? Since the authorized users list is the regular expression '.*', yes, he is authorized."
WAP: "Welcome, Mr. Mouse"

Perfect compliance with the stated guidelines. Note the absence of any requirement:

  • to validate that an identity is genuine
  • to log or retain the submitted identity
  • to limit access in any fashion

Futility. It doesn't take that much cleverness to obey the guideline and still carry on as usual.

If the authorities are serious about stamping out WAP-based anonymity, they're gonna have to try harder.

Re:Solution: authorize everyone (4, Insightful)

gnick (1211984) | more than 5 years ago | (#25039101)

Simple solution: authorize everyone with WiFi capability to access your network. The authentication is very strong, as anyone without WiFi capability will absolutely not be allowed to connect.

There's a problem there. TFS indicates that this is just a "set of guidelines and recommendations", but the title indicates that it's a potential law. If the law states that you must authorize people to use your network, it seems that they could hold you responsible for its misuse. So if somebody transmits terrorist instructions / P2Ps RIAA music / uploads kiddie porn (won't somebody think of the children!?!), they may drag you in. Even though you didn't commit the crime, you authorized somebody to use your equipment and helped facilitate the crime.

Of course, if I loan somebody my car and they run down their cheating GF, I'm probably safe unless they told me their intention ahead of time. But Internet laws are still so nebulous that the analogy may not carry over.

Re:Solution: authorize everyone (4, Funny)

digitig (1056110) | more than 5 years ago | (#25039993)

if I loan somebody my car and they run down their cheating GF, I'm probably safe unless they told me their intention ahead of time. But Internet laws are still so nebulous that the analogy may not carry over.

But it must! It's a car analogy!

Of course, this does nothing (4, Informative)

rolfwind (528248) | more than 5 years ago | (#25038879)

to stop the attacks in the first place. Lots of other ways to claim responsibility for attacks. As usual, it just makes the common man a criminal...

Re:Of course, this does nothing (4, Interesting)

lysergic.acid (845423) | more than 5 years ago | (#25039269)

yea, this is quite idiotic.

terrorists don't carry out attacks because they have open wi-fi access. they simply use open wi-fi because it's available and convenient--the same reason everyone else uses it.

if they can't access the internet via open wi-fi they'll just use other anonymous channels. what is the Indian government going to do, eliminate public computer terminals at schools and libraries? ban proxy servers? or simply outlaw anonymity altogether?

it would be just as easy to claim responsibility for a terrorist act by leaving an anonymous note or spraying graffiti onto the side of a public building at night. should all Indian citizens have to get GPS implants?

Re:Of course, this does nothing (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#25040089)

Naah its about tracking them down.

In the earlier attacks, the government managed to track them from their ISPs and even Cyber Cafes (you gotta show ID in India if u go online from a cyber cafe).

Re:Of course, this does nothing (4, Insightful)

IcyHando'Death (239387) | more than 5 years ago | (#25039553)

Quite true. Yet if India is anything like America, a thin layer of anti-terrorist wrapping paper is all that's needed to disguise even the most egregiously pro-corporate legislation. The telecoms want this change to reduce sharing of network connections, pure and simple.

Re:Of course, this does nothing (1)

arktemplar (1060050) | more than 5 years ago | (#25039981)

Fortunately, it's currently not that bad here (but maybe I'm mistaken). Though yes, the ignorance most people have with respect to technology is rather irritating. The point however is that this is just a reaction - due to recent bomb blasts through out the country - in most major cities. Any ways, wifi hasn't spread all that much so the people it would be affecting aren't large, but let's see. Personally I doubt if it will be a law all that easily, most prolly it'll get squashed as soon as a bill is introduced.

guidelines == law?? (1)

Locklin (1074657) | more than 5 years ago | (#25038911)

Since when does disobeying "guidelines and recommendations" mean you are breaking the law?

Just set the ESSID to "You are authorized," then everyone using it is authorized.

Re:guidelines == law?? (2, Informative)

tepples (727027) | more than 5 years ago | (#25039525)

Since when does disobeying "guidelines and recommendations" mean you are breaking the law?

The law in a given jurisdiction may condition safe-harbor provisions on compliance with "guidelines and recommendations". For example, the Online Copyright Infringement Liability Limitation Act, which has been law in the United States (home of Slashdot) for just shy of a decade, conditions a safe harbor for copyright infringement on a notice and takedown procedure.

Just set the ESSID to "You are authorized," then everyone using it is authorized.

But nobody is authenticated. The guideline appears to require both authentication and authorization.

anonymity (1)

EaglemanBSA (950534) | more than 5 years ago | (#25038913)

This seems like an in-line move with the recent article about the international group working towards eliminating anonymity on the internet [slashdot.org]. How is this going to make things more secure? If I want to set off a bomb, I'm going to set off a bomb, with or without an open wireless router. Given the stated problem, this seems like an asinine response.

Same tired excuses from the oppression playbook (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#25038927)

With every new communications medium there comes the perceived peril that bad people can use it anonymously. In all cases thus far, the little-villains had many options and simply chose the most convenient and the big villains use this as an excuse for laws that give them give them greater control.

The terrorists could have as easily cut words out of the newspaper and pasted them onto a sheet of paper and mailed it. Anonymous message delivery is not new. Hopefully the people of India will catch this nonsense before it goes too far. There is a non-trivial portion of the people in that country who cannot easily just "buy an account" at the local cybercafe, but greatly benefit by keeping in touch with their extended families for free.

What a pity (5, Interesting)

the_other_chewey (1119125) | more than 5 years ago | (#25038937)

I recently toured Skandinavia. In every reasonably big city
(that means "more than 15 houses" over there), you can nearly
be sure to find some open access point. Of course, some of
those are cluess users using lousy default configs - but quite
a lot are deliberately open, with SSIDs like "welcome_to_stockholm".

One even ran a guestbook on the AP's port 80, accessible only
from the inside. Lots and lots of grateful people from all over
the world had left a message before mine :-)

That's the kind of culture I would like to see encouraged in
other places as well, not this "OMG terrorists" bullshit being
used as an excuse for more and more control in way too many
parts of the world.

Re:What a pity (1)

kypper (446750) | more than 5 years ago | (#25038997)

I was just thinking the same. Seems to me that if you want anyone to be an 'authorized person', the above doesn't matter.

Re:What a pity (2, Insightful)

tomz16 (992375) | more than 5 years ago | (#25039989)

I was just thinking the same. Seems to me that if you want anyone to be an 'authorized person', the above doesn't matter.

That's cool... until one of your "authorized" persons threatens the president!

Re:What a pity (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#25040563)

To avoid that you could route guest users through tor so that problem users would be much less likely to cause you grief.

Re:What a pity (1)

genghisjahn (1344927) | more than 5 years ago | (#25039051)

Those policians are fast over there in India. Fixate on some issue that many in the population will have no strong feelings on one way or the other. No matter what position the politician takes, their approval is unaffected. All the while it appears that they're doing something. Holy cow, I just used there,their and they're in the same post. I also used "holy cow" in a post about India.

Re:What a pity (4, Interesting)

swb (14022) | more than 5 years ago | (#25039053)

That's the kind of culture I would like to see encouraged in
other places as well, not this "OMG terrorists" bullshit being
used as an excuse for more and more control in way too many
parts of the world.

Then vote for cultural homogeneity? There seldom seems to be OMG Terrorist! or repressive government problems when you have a homogeneous culture.

In places with highly diverse cultures, the tension and the government repression seem to get ratcheted up.

Re:What a pity (-1, Troll)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#25039129)

You're calling me a homo?

Re:What a pity (1, Interesting)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#25039261)

cultural homogeneity like in Saudi Arabia?

Mod parent up (1)

Chrisq (894406) | more than 5 years ago | (#25039457)

Good pint, cultural homogeneity may or may not be necessary but it is certainly not sufficient.

Re:What a pity (3, Interesting)

Idiomatick (976696) | more than 5 years ago | (#25039327)

Scandinavia is the least religious place in the world explaining well the lack of violence. Compare that to homogeneous places in africa where violent crime is incredibly high. Or compare that to Canada where we are very multi-cultural but have fairly low rates of crime. A country being homogeneous will i think lower crime but it is NOT a major factor. The places history, culture and religious fervor seems to set the pace.

Re:What a pity (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#25039515)

Czech Republic is the least religious place

Re:What a pity (1)

Idiomatick (976696) | more than 5 years ago | (#25039607)

1. Sweden (up to 85% non-believer, atheist, agnostic)

2. Vietnam

3. Denmark

4. Norway

5. Japan

6. Czech Republic

7. Finland

Do note numbers 1,3,4,7

Re:What a pity (1)

orzetto (545509) | more than 5 years ago | (#25039931)

You are not looking for cultural homogeneity, you are looking for compatibility. In my work place (research institution in Germany) there are people from all over the world, only about half are German, and I still have to see any act of the slightest cultural embarrassment.

Of course, a lot of idiots are incompatible (not name-calling: look up the word "idiot") with other cultures, because they have been told their culture or race is superior, their god is the only true one, and that they should obey instead of thinking.

Anyway, history is full of counterexamples to your statement: most fascist states have been culturally very homogeneous (not that there was much choice in the matter). If anything, economical homogeneity is more important: look up the wealth distribution of Scandinavian countries, of the USA and other European countries, and plot against an indicator of social disarray. People generally don't really care if their neighbour has two wives (in fact few would mind if he's beating them or worse), but people will be much more pissed off if they have to live on the brink of existence and the main part of the value they create goes to some rich heir (or some foreign rich country) who does nothing for it, but gets to reap the profits.

Re:What a pity (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#25040153)

Cultural homogeneity is a fiction. It has never existed and never will.

Re:What a pity (4, Insightful)

soren100 (63191) | more than 5 years ago | (#25040849)

Then vote for cultural homogeneity? There seldom seems to be OMG Terrorist! or repressive government problems when you have a homogeneous culture.

That whole "cultural homogeneity" meme is just used as a dismissive tactic to avoid discussing the real reasons the Scandinavian cultures are so successful. Cultural homogeneiety is pretty prevalent in China, Russia, North Korea, Saudi Arabia, etc., just as much as in Denmark, Sweden, Norway, etc, yet those countries don't get any awards for being great places to live.

The difference is that the Scandinavian cultures are highly progressive. Education is free to all, and the government will actually pay the students to go to school, so you end up with citizens that are educated on the issues, smart enough to vote for much better government candidates, and don't fall for the "tricks" that less educated voters fall for. So -- surprise -- they don't end up with repressive govnerments. Surprise! The tax money that is generated actually goes to services that are useful to the people that pay them. The citizens get free health care, housing help, and many other services that keep their society, happy, relaxed, and stable.

In America, our education is hugely expensive, so many people don't get educated. You end up with ignorant voters --> corrupt politicians, deregulation, failing banks, and the current "socialism for the rich", complete with massive government bailouts, but only for rich investors.

In other countries, with even less educated voters, you end up with worse conditions. It's not a mystery.

Re:What a pity (1, Insightful)

cOdEgUru (181536) | more than 5 years ago | (#25039155)

Last I checked, this is the overall tally

Number of lives lost in Scandinavia due to Terrorism: 0

Number of lives lost in India due to Terrorism: Atleast 635 people killed in Terrorism since 2001 (I think in reality its far more..)

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Terrorism_in_India [wikipedia.org]

For all the people here, how would you start behaving the day after the first series of bomb blasts if they were to go off in major cities around US? How would your perspectives change, after the fiftieth one, and consider for a minute that the Govt is helpless to prevent it, that every other week there is one more idiot blowing up innocents. What would you do? Its easy to be far removed from all this ugliness and have an opinion.

I am not saying what they propose to ban Open networks to be valid. What I am saying is, seven years in to the stark reality posed by the threat of Islamic terrorism, I am surprised that India hasnt opted to carpet bomb Pakistan occupied Kashmir.

Re:What a pity (2, Insightful)

Hognoxious (631665) | more than 5 years ago | (#25039395)

I am surprised that India hasnt opted to carpet bomb Pakistan occupied Kashmir.

Pakistan has nukes, and Indians aren't stupid.

Re:What a pity (1)

pacificleo (850029) | more than 5 years ago | (#25039439)

"I am surprised that India hasnt opted to carpet bomb Pakistan occupied Kashmir." Very True. this is what i used to think . But looking at the result of US War in Afganistan i seriously don't think that a war is solution to terror . but ya sometime it helps

Re:What a pity (2, Insightful)

TheRaven64 (641858) | more than 5 years ago | (#25039453)

You know, I'm sick of this kind of reasoning. I grew up in the UK during the Northern Ireland troubles, and terrorist bombs were a fairly regular news item. I didn't know anyone who had been killed in one, but my mother only missed one because the tube she was on was delayed. And yet, in spite of the fact we had terrorists recruiting and training a narrow strip of water away, we didn't feel the need to give up freedoms or think 'what would terrorists do with this kind of situation' before doing anything. It wasn't until America decided to go on a holy crusade that we started getting this kind of thing.

India is the second most populous country in the world. It has over a billion people. 635 people is under 0.007% of the annual death rate - since this figure is over 7 years, it's around 0.001% of annual deaths. The figures for (non-terrorism-related) murders are two orders of magnitude higher, and the figures from smoking-related cancers are a few more orders of magnitude higher still.

Re:What a pity (1)

arktemplar (1060050) | more than 5 years ago | (#25040081)

I see, I never knew that CCTVs watching your every move were not an invasion into privacy etc. (not to flame but seriously ?)

And do look at it from the point of view of the Indians - bombings in major cities at random times - chosen for maximum disruption of normal life. The parliament was attacked, I'd like to see how the UK responds to terrorists after something like that.

Re:What a pity (1)

TheRaven64 (641858) | more than 5 years ago | (#25040723)

I see, I never knew that CCTVs watching your every move were not an invasion into privacy etc. (not to flame but seriously ?)

Firstly, around 90% of the CCTV cameras in the Daily Mail article that started this meme are in privately owned - most of the world had CCTV cameras in shops, it's not something specific to the UK, most of the remainder are traffic-monitoring cameras on motorways used to produce the traffic reports for motorists, and the rest are on public high streets where you have no expectation of privacy anyway. Secondly, most of the government-controlled ones, and all of the plans to link them together into a massive network were introduced after 2001 - after the USA stopped funding Irish terrorists (the mayor of NYC apparently realised that terrorism wasn't cool after September that year), which removed the support from the few who weren't involved in the peace process.

And do look at it from the point of view of the Indians - bombings in major cities at random times - chosen for maximum disruption of normal life.

So, exactly like the UK in the '80s then? Some examples here [wikipedia.org] and a more complete list here [wikipedia.org] - note how few there are since 2001 compared with pretty much any other 7-year period before 1996.

Re:What a pity (2, Insightful)

oldspewey (1303305) | more than 5 years ago | (#25039673)

seven years in to the stark reality posed by the threat of Islamic terrorism, I am surprised that India hasnt opted to carpet bomb Pakistan occupied Kashmir.

Seven years is the American viewpoint on that "stark reality" ... for Indians it's been a lot, lot longer.

Re:What a pity (2, Informative)

warrior_s (881715) | more than 5 years ago | (#25040043)

What I am saying is, seven years in to the stark reality posed by the threat of Islamic terrorism, I am surprised that India hasnt opted to carpet bomb Pakistan occupied Kashmir.

A correction, its not 7 years, its almost 20 years since islamic terrorism started in India.
This [wikipedia.org] is the beginning I think, and the terrorists have never looked back.

Re:What a pity (1, Interesting)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#25040337)

Go back another 5 years to Bombay [wikipedia.org].

Re:What a pity (1)

whyloginwhysubscribe (993688) | more than 5 years ago | (#25039281)

I's like to do that myself - but how can I guarantee against illegal activities on my internet connection?

Re:What a pity (1)

the_other_chewey (1119125) | more than 5 years ago | (#25039541)

how can I guarantee against illegal activities on my internet connection?

You can't. The probability for it to happen is rather low though (especially if you are not
the only one doing it), and (IMHO) that risk is way outweighed by the advantages for the
commonality - and that's where the need for a sane political and legal environment comes in:
To protect the AP owner from being liable for everything that goes on over said AP.

Laws like that don't prevent anything, someone determined will still find a way to do whatever
would have been possible over an open AP via some other mean - but those laws make life less nice
for everybody.

Re:What a pity (1)

pacificleo (850029) | more than 5 years ago | (#25039347)

"Lots and lots of grateful people from all over the world had left a message before mine :-)"

while that sounds good in theory try telling this to NSA who scan every email . shouldn't they send a "Thanks for riding on our bandwidth " email every time some outsider access internet from a Starbuck ?? having said that i don't see how this going to do anything to help govt to fight terror .I am an Indian living in Delhi and I survived the attack by a margin of 15 Min . Let me tell you that any Terrorist with a 1 Rupee coin can call from a unmonitored public telephone booth to inform or take responsibility or to ask his wife whats there for dinner. this is a typical Beating the Strawman reaction you expect from Govt Agencies in the aftermath of a BIG terrorist attack . two year back they banned all Blogging tool for the same reasons. only to lift the ban after few weeks .

Re:What a pity (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#25039667)

I for one see no remaining reason to go on vacation in India

What a consequence (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#25040323)

"Of course, some of
those are cluess users using lousy default configs - but quite
a lot are deliberately open, with SSIDs like "welcome_to_stockholm"."

I wonder. In Scandinavia is everyone as liberal with their physical property as their virtual?

I guess no one can see the consequences of granting strangers complete access to virtual property as they can with physical.

I can certainly see why Slashdot's up in arms. Who wants to give up something free?

Re:What a consequence (3, Interesting)

eosp (885380) | more than 5 years ago | (#25040821)

In Sweden, it is common to either leave one's door unlocked so that passers-by can use the restroom, or have the house laid out such that a restroom is accessible from outside without passing through the house.

How? (4, Insightful)

camperdave (969942) | more than 5 years ago | (#25038945)

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.

And just how are the ISPs supposed to be able to accomplish this? Are they going to have people wardriving all around India, sniffing out open wifi, then seeing if it traces back to one of their customers? Or is a strongly worded email sufficient?

Re:How? (1)

Rayeth (1335201) | more than 5 years ago | (#25039317)

I suppose they could require every wireless AP to authenticate its users to a RADIUS server [wikipedia.org]. Of course that means strict control over all the types of APs used and no one really wants that, but that would certainly provided the authentication, albeit being a giant pain for the ISP and the customers.

The technologies exist, they just aren't cheap or very user friendly.

Re:How? (1)

schon (31600) | more than 5 years ago | (#25040251)

How do you force the customer to use RADIUS on *their own gear*?

A Scenario: ISP sells an internet account to a client. They go to the client's house, and ensure that the DSL modem is plugged directly into a computer.

Client later goes to buy a wireless NIC for their computer, and turns the computer into an open AP.

How exactly does RADIUS prevent this?

How is the ISP supposed to know about this?

How is the ISP supposed to monitor for it?

How is the ISP supposed to prevent it?

Re:How? (1)

Rayeth (1335201) | more than 5 years ago | (#25040689)

Clearly in a scenario where the ISP is not involved RADIUS will do nothing. However many Wireless APs are installed along with the DSL modem by the ISP. In such cases RADIUS could ensure that authorized users are the only ones allowed.

Other situations you mentioned don't have a good solution because they are by definition outside of the ISP's control. I doubt this ruling could be enforced in a situation where the ISP did not install the AP, for the exact reasons you have stated.

Re:How? (1)

clevelandguru (612010) | more than 5 years ago | (#25039805)

Usually the ISP provides the WiFi device (DSL Modem/Router/WiFi all in a single box) and an ISP technician installs it for the user.

Re:How? (1)

nasor (690345) | more than 5 years ago | (#25040267)

Also, if I run a cafe or something and want to provide free wifi to attract customers, then aren't all those people "authorized users"?

Re:How? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#25040429)

Well I know my ISP can access my gateway router thing from the outside, and know how the configuration is set up. They seemed confused when they asked and I told them not to turn on Wifi, guess they don't realize I'm never using that thing as my actual router.

Dumb, dumb, dumb. (1)

helgihg (843017) | more than 5 years ago | (#25038969)

Even if this nonsense did anything at all to combat terrorism, which it doesn't, the idea of an personally identifiable internet connection is a pipe dream, not to mention that it's ethically preposterous. One of the greatest strengths about the internet is how easy it is to remain anonymous and that's a feature, not a bug.

Re:Dumb, dumb, dumb. (1)

oldspewey (1303305) | more than 5 years ago | (#25039063)

One of the greatest strengths about the internet is how easy it is to remain anonymous and that's a feature, not a bug.

If TFA had been about spam rather than a crackdown on terrorism, would you still make the same statement?

So logically... (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#25038983)

...the doorsteps of all newspapers should be equipped with anonymous letter eradication devices. Like lasers? Strapped to shark's heads?

They may bomb Indians, but they'll damn well retain the ability to be completely ignorant of it! Except for the explosion, that's pretty loud and hurty, not really something you can ignore.

Prepaid SIM cards in India ... (5, Insightful)

oldspewey (1303305) | more than 5 years ago | (#25039007)

Of all the countries I've traveled, India is far and away the biggest pain in the ass to get hold of a simple prepaid SIM to stick in your cellphone. Even a little hole-in-the-wall shop wants you to fill out a detailed form, provide identification to be photocopied, provide a valid address while staying in India ... all because they don't want terrorists to be able to use throwaway phones for planning and coordination of attacks.

I'm not at all surprised to see this mindset being extended into other wireless communications

One thing to keep in mind - while America received their "wake up call" in September 2001, there are other nations like India that have been battling terrorism on home soil for several decades. It's worth paying close attention to what these other nations are doing today, if you want clues to what America might be doing tomorrow.

Re:Prepaid SIM cards in India ... (5, Insightful)

TheRaven64 (641858) | more than 5 years ago | (#25039503)

We were battling terrorism in the UK for decades, coming over from Ireland. Most of it was funded by the US. We pretty much ignored it - you'd get a short snipped on the news about it and then back to work. September 2001 was a wake-up call for our government too - they learned from the USA that they could use terrorism as a way of gaining more control over individual lives, rather than it just being a minor irritation.

Re:Prepaid SIM cards in India ... (1)

dwandy (907337) | more than 5 years ago | (#25040373)

If there was ever a comment-set ( I see you've made similar comments to other posts) that needed a +6 and to be distributed around this is it.

"Terror" is not new. There are countries like Ireland, India, Isreal etc that have been dealing with this without loss of other rights.

But the US has shown that it's not about the war on terror: it's about making a swift grab of personal freedoms. It's only now with this new lesson in governmental control that other countries are changing how they "deal" with terrorism.

It's sad, really that people are so quickly willing to give up their rights for perceived security.

Re:Prepaid SIM cards in India ... (1)

c (8461) | more than 5 years ago | (#25039887)

> Even a little hole-in-the-wall shop wants you to fill out a detailed
> form, provide identification to be photocopied, provide a valid
> address while staying in India

Yes, but did you instead try:

1. slipping the shop $250 (or 250 euros) or some other reasonable multiple of a month/year salary?
2. use fake id/contact info
3. pull a gun and threaten to kill their entire extended family if the phone stopped working within days
4. ask your cousin behind the counter to stop screwing around and just give you the damned phone
5. stealing a phone long enough to make a call.

Because, realistically those are all standard terrorist tactics and asking for lots of ID wouldn't really block activity that well.

Sadly, you're right in that America might adopt the same broken policies anyways. It doesn't need to work, it just needs to produce a pretty paper trail.

Re:Prepaid SIM cards in India ... (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#25040751)

1. slipping the shop $250 (or 250 euros) or some other reasonable multiple of a month/year salary?

You've obviously never been to India or bribed anyone before.

Re:Prepaid SIM cards in India ... (1, Interesting)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#25040013)

Come on, anyone that has businesses or have lived a couple of months in India knows this "must be a registered user to get wifi" thing will be just BS. Basically, India is a shithole with 3/4 of their people eating their own dried shit to survive, they don't own a computer or have wifi.
The other 1/4, the guys that will use wifi, cell-phones, and answer your customer support call when you call your US telco hotline, those people are already registered wifi users. So, this is just stupid government propaganda. Harmless. There is no liberty and freedom fight in India. They fighting only to survive starvation...

Ignorant (1)

duggi (1114563) | more than 5 years ago | (#25040617)

Do you know how diverse and unorganised India is? Technology that connects people will also make terrorists job easier. And its not a once in a decade or millennium business, I call my friends in Bangalore asking were they OK, and they ask me the next day was I OK ( one month ago, and Im not talking about delhi blasts or jaipur blasts)!!
The government has too many troubles tracking explosives, naxalites, terrorists, riots, strikes and all that, the least Indians can do is give it a break. And if people know you well in your neighborhood, you dont need any of that stuff. I havent given this guy in ahmedabad my photo or anything, just told him Im studying at so and so place, and he trusts me.
Nobody is giving up liberties here, the government is trying to catch the unwanted(surplus) liberty from people who can afford it.
I know it is too easy to comment from far away, but a bit of research and contextual familiarity, your opinion might be considered. Or else you are just a westerner warming the chair and giving his opinion.

Re:Ignorant (1)

oldspewey (1303305) | more than 5 years ago | (#25040851)

Do you know how diverse and unorganised India is?

I'm going to go with "super diverse" and "painfully disorganized"

Re:Prepaid SIM cards in India ... (1)

rtechie (244489) | more than 5 years ago | (#25040753)

Of all the countries I've traveled, India is far and away the biggest pain in the ass to get hold of a simple prepaid SIM to stick in your cellphone. Even a little hole-in-the-wall shop wants you to fill out a detailed form, provide identification to be photocopied, provide a valid address while staying in India ... all because they don't want terrorists to be able to use throwaway phones for planning and coordination of attacks.

Of course it doesn't work. At all. People who commit mass murder aren't intimidated by penalties for stealing cellphones. Hell, they don't have to steal them. Just tell the shop owner they'll burn his shop down, and him along with it, if they have to fill out the forms. The police can't keep the streets safe to terrorists, you think they can stop protection rackets?

It's more to the typical Indian attitude that there's no problem that can't be solved by filling out two additional forms.

When open wi-fi is outlawed... (1)

johnny cashed (590023) | more than 5 years ago | (#25039021)

You know, only outlaws will open wi-fi. Seriously, terrorists will use cracking techniques to open "closed" wi-fi networks. From what I understand, wi-fi security is weak and easily cracked anyway.

Re:When open wi-fi is outlawed... (1)

Overzeetop (214511) | more than 5 years ago | (#25039107)

Well, it is in the name of preventing the high crime of "taking credit for a terrorist act via email" (note that if it had been "...on the internet" it could have been patented).

Apparently, somebody got frustrated that they couldn't track down the low level flunkie who sent the message because it was done on an uncontrolled wifi connection. Apparently, while the terrorists are good at using anonymous email, they lack the skills to send a letter anonymously through physical post without leaving those key identifying marks which always lead investigators to get the bad guys (...in the movies).

Re:When open wi-fi is outlawed... (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#25040111)

It is thought that the terrorist himself sent the mail since it was sent/received a couple of minutes before the explosions took place. Also, this happened for all the three sets of explosions - in three major cities - killing more than a 100 people.

Also, the terrorist is not a low level flunkie (sic). This guy is supposed to a moderately competent software engineer and is also a bomb maker. Furthermore, the investigative agencies have done a good job in that they captured most of the high ranking members of the terrorist group within a week of the explosion. But this fellow escaped by the skin of the teeth and has been doing the bombing (presumably) alone.

It is much more difficult to capture a single person than a group since there is much less to track on.

Anyways, the whole open-wifi being illegal is not the answer to this. It is too easy to misuse.
Cant they just force the manufacturers of wireless modems to put random passwords for each machine? This will serve the dual purpose in that a) since it is there by default, the dumb user can do the basic steps mentioned in the manual and still get the security and b)terrorist doesnt have a lot of possibilities of finding a open access - so they will not try.

Also, even though the wifi security is poor, the villian most probably will try only simple hacks.

Post-Fix (2, Interesting)

aalu.paneer (872021) | more than 5 years ago | (#25039031)

The current Indian government is the most ineffective and clueless one. The emails are sent after the bombs have gone off, after the victims are dead or injured. The damage is done. The terrorist will find another way of sending their message. Shutting down Open Wi-fi will achieve nothing!

Mod parent up. (1)

TheLink (130905) | more than 5 years ago | (#25039401)

Yeah exactly what I was thinking.

If they really want to catch terrorists, perhaps the government should secretly sponsor many free open wifi spots - fast access, no blocking etc.

And then log the traffic, mac addresses and rough physical locations (you can do triangulation to figure where the users are).

And also plant cameras in the vicinity.

So when the bombers log on to brag about it, there is a higher chance of the cops being able to pick them up for "investigation".

It's even great that they use email - you could automate stuff on receipt of the email.

Expensive? Yes. Effective? I don't know, but probably more effective than trying to discourage open wifi.

Re:Post-Fix (1)

JSBiff (87824) | more than 5 years ago | (#25040141)

While I tend to agree with the final conclusion, I would like to point one thing out - this doesn't appear to be about preventing the already occured terrorist attack, obviously, but about trying to get some way for law enforcement officials to try to track the sender of the email. Find the sender of the email, and you might be able to covertly spy on him, and figure out who he's working with. Honestly, I don't know if they'll ever really be able to track the emails back to a source anyhow - I'm not sure that making open wi-fi illegal will matter much - there must be a million ways around that. . .

* Check into a hotel with WiFi access, pay with cash, register under a fake identity

* Have someone send the email from another country

* break into a business or residence with Internet access and physically plug in to a network which does not require username/pass

* Kidnap someone and beat their username/password out of them with a rubber hose

That's a relief! (2, Funny)

roystgnr (4015) | more than 5 years ago | (#25039045)

Traceroute tells me that it's 26 hops from me to the first computer in India I tried, and that looks like it's getting dangerously close to their default 30 hop max. Now, I don't know enough about network protocols to be sure of the best way to prune that route back if it grows to 27 hops, but I bet this new idea of singling out the guy running router number 26 and arresting him should work just fine. Clearly India's regulators know almost as much as I do about the Internets!

Is it worth it? (1)

expat.iain (1337021) | more than 5 years ago | (#25039075)

These knee-jerk reactions to anything terrorist related are going to continue to cost society dearly as a whole. Each time there is some attack the politicians leap forward with all kinds of measures to restrict our freedoms, instead of tackling the core issues.

We need to wake up and stop punishing our own communities for the actions of others.

Background. (2, Informative)

Vellmont (569020) | more than 5 years ago | (#25039087)

For anyone wondering about the background to this move, you could start with the Wikipedia article" [wikipedia.org]

Re:Background. (1)

Free the Cowards (1280296) | more than 5 years ago | (#25039853)

Did I miss the part where it explained how the terrorists in question used open wifi as part of their attacks, or are you just saying that it's another case of government using terrorism as an excuse to crack down on something?

Stinks of corruption. (1, Insightful)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#25039119)

This is doing nothing to combat terrorism.

Sounds like the telecoms just want more people to go home and pay for badwith.

Re:Stinks of corruption. (2, Insightful)

Spatial (1235392) | more than 5 years ago | (#25039421)

It could just as easily be abject stupidity or ignorance on the part of policy makers; the typical practise of taking action with no regard as to its effectiveness.

sounds hard to enforce (1)

poetmatt (793785) | more than 5 years ago | (#25039125)

beyond this sounding odd from a US-perspective (even though this isn't a US thing), would this even be enforceable? I mean can you really force someone to not be able to just hid their SSID or mac filter or something?

I do understand that it would set a legal precedent over there, etc...but still.

Re:sounds hard to enforce (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#25039745)

It's EASY to enforce. Just go wardriving down the streets looking for SSIDs named "Linksys".

Re:sounds hard to enforce (1)

tepples (727027) | more than 5 years ago | (#25039841)

I mean can you really force someone to not be able to just hid their SSID or mac filter or something?

Anyone can crack the 26-digit WEP key in minutes [theinquirer.net]. From there, you can pick up SSIDs from association requests [wi-fiplanet.com] and snoop on the MAC that sends and receives each packet. Still, the use of WEP, hidden SSIDs, and MAC filtering keeps casual leeches out and establishes an attacker's intent [wikipedia.org] to enter the network.

Re:sounds hard to enforce (1)

poetmatt (793785) | more than 5 years ago | (#25039925)

Well yes, you and I understand that, but I didn't think it was necessary to mention that all forms of protection are useless if someone intends to gain access to the router.

However, my question remained as to whether you can truly control whether someone can provide open access or not.

Wardriving cops (1)

tepples (727027) | more than 5 years ago | (#25040093)

However, my question remained as to whether you can truly control whether someone can provide open access or not.

Have a police officer wardrive, and if he can associate to an AP without establishing intent, the owner of the house where the AP has the strongest signal doesn't enjoy the safe harbor protection.

We will see it in the US (1)

mordred99 (895063) | more than 5 years ago | (#25039809)

Hell .. we will see this kind of policies from ISPs really soon once people start using the excuse "But my WAP was open and I don't know if someone used it for this criminal act." The *iaa will start sending their dogs down the path of forcing ISPs and their lapdogs in congress to make sure that we know exactly WHO is on WHAT IP address at all times so all actions can be accountable. Think I am being crazy? Just wait and see.

Re:We will see it in the US (1)

idontgno (624372) | more than 5 years ago | (#25040001)

The *iaa will start sending their dogs down the path of forcing ISPs and their lapdogs in congress to make sure that we know exactly WHO is on WHAT IP address at all times so all actions can be accountable. Think I am being crazy?

Yes, I think you're crazy, but I also think you're right.

In India, ongoing murderous terrorist violence against innocent citizens provokes a government drive to suppress Internet anonymity. In the US, it seems quite likely that the impetus for the government to take comparable action would be media pigopolies continuing to "lose revenues to piracy".

Re:We will see it in the US (1)

mapsjanhere (1130359) | more than 5 years ago | (#25040097)

While being haunted by the MIAA might be annoying and/or costly, it can get really serious if someone gets into child porn using your IP. Since "attempted download" is enough to get you criminally prosecuted, and the FBI is using honeypots to draw people in, your open WAP IP address can become a serious source of pain. Even worse if you used some rudimentary but inefficient protection like WEP and you then try to explain "that you must have been hacked". What coincidentally is the reason I use wired networking ...

Re:We will see it in the US (1)

mordred99 (895063) | more than 5 years ago | (#25040789)

I am thinking that they will use the guise of kiddie porn and terrorism or (insert morally outrageous thing here) to try to make the internet as traceable as possible. There are two problems I see. One, they are trying to put the onus on the individual. Individuals are not tech savvy enough to know every which way they can be exploited to get a person to piggy back on their network. Two, people won't know the rules/laws. I mean I know all about "ignorance of the law is not excuse to break it" but have you seen the criminal laws in each state (on a shelf) plus, federal? What about regulations that are not even laws but you still have to follow them? People cannot be expected to follow every law out there. Everyone (even the President) breaks some law each day somehow, most probably without their knowledge. It is just tolerated. Tacitus (a Roman Senator said) "The more corrupt the state, the more numerous the laws." I see this every day. We will get to the point where no one will be able to do anything but stay at home so the government or someone else will be able to listen to what they said. Off the the mountains I go :)

Re:We will see it in the US (2, Insightful)

bendodge (998616) | more than 5 years ago | (#25040173)

Just wait. IPv6 will make this much easier to enact. Much as I like IPv6 over 4, it has some very scary privacy implications.

Re:We will see it in the US (1)

mordred99 (895063) | more than 5 years ago | (#25040807)

Game over man .. Game over .. we are all screwed .. The man is going to find us. Not me man .. Hack the system ... Hack they sys*disconnected*

Yeah Yeah try implementing it.. (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#25039823)

In India going in the wrong direction in a "One Way" street is illegal. http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=kPcIjkkoEXA&NR=1

OK, I "permit" everyone! (1)

microcars (708223) | more than 5 years ago | (#25039955)

"...permit access to internet to only authorised persons using wireless devices."

If I own the "wireless device" can't I "authorise" EVERYONE and ANYONE who accesses it to "use" it?

Even if they ban Open WiFi,(which was alluded to in the article...) you could still throw up a splash page that welcomes them to your network and gives a username and password if they want to continue.
A number of hotels I have stayed at recently do this, the network is "closed" but all you do is open a web browser and click to agree to the TOS. Then you are good to go.

Poor assumption (1)

PPH (736903) | more than 5 years ago | (#25040493)

All of this assumes that terrorists can be tracked by monitoring on-line activity. Yes, they may now be using anonymous Internet access. But terrorist cells are small and can effectively organize by communicating face to face.

This is a symptom of lazy cops. Its easier to set up a system to comb through e-mail and IMs than it is to do community policing and gt to know who the troublemakers are.

Dumb idea (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#25040507)

Pick up cellphone.
Remove SIM card.
Power on.
Dial 112.
Claim responsibility.

In other news:

'All stores may be instructed to ensure that their customers buyng pencils and/or paper must use effective authentication mechanisms and permit writing to only authorised persons using such devices.'

So? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#25040567)

I'm the first one to mooch free WiFi if available. I love the idea of sharing WiFi ala Meraki etc.

I also don't see anything odd about the Indian Govt.'s decision. Remember the crazy shoe bomber that got gazillions of air travelers take their shoes off in the US?

This particular response might not seem to achieve anything; but from a country that has been blighted by terrorism for decades before 9/11/01, (and oh, a country with notoriously easy-going enforcement), any response to the attacks is at least a sign of life in the administration.

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