On Issues

Prabir Purkayastha, President FSMI, discusses about the largest cyber security threat ever. The ransomware wannacry, its effects and the the group behind it.

The vigilant community of developers, activists, hacktivists, academia  and organisations like Free Software Movement of India, savetheinternet, startup communities had to carry out a dogged campaign for net neutrality in face of such money power.

We as FSMI, strongly oppose inclusion of DRM (Digital Rights Management)  technologies and its attempt to control what a user can and can't do with the media and hardware you've purchased.

Would you like to watch your legally bought movies on different devices? Would you like to backup your DVDs? Or would you like to convert your e-books into different formats?

The Free Software Movement of India notes with concern the proposal of the Union Government to bring back (albeit in a different form) the widely misused Section 66A of the IT Act that was struck down by the Supreme Court in a landmark judgment in March 2015.

The government had entrusted a group of officials from the Home Ministry and the security agencies to re-write the 66A after it was struck down. A draft of the revised 66A is now circulating, whose main purpose seems to be replicate in the IT Act what is already in the Indian Penal Code, e.g., 153 A, as well as expand its scope.

The original purpose of 66A was to prevent spam. Instead it became an omnibus detailing of “crimes”, many of which are already addressed elsewhere. Free Software Movement of India believes that the 66A should not be brought back in a different form with a different wording, giving the police more powers than it already has. The existing laws are adequate to deal with the issues that the police are claiming that the revised 66A will deal with. We believe that off-line rights and on-line rights should be same and do not think that there should be two sets of definitions for the same offenses, merely because they occur off-line or on-line.

Free Software Movement of India hails the decision taken by TRAI that disallows the service providers to offer or charge discriminatory tariffs for data services on the basis of content being accessed by a consumer. TRAI carried out a thorough examination of the issues in the responses to its Consultation paper on the subject and taken a decision that upholds Net-neutrality. It has also made clear that it considers net neutrality to be the guiding principle of the internet.

TRAI has mentioned that they should keep close watch on implementation of the mandate by the service providers. The community also should be watchful and ensure that no back doors that would breach Net Neutrality be allowed.

This case of the consultation process stands out to be unique, where mighty corporations have come out spending huge money as advertisements in all forms of media and mould public opinion in their favour. The vigilant developer, activist, hacktivist communities and organisations had to fight it out in all means for Truth to Prevail. This consultation was a testimony to people's intellect against the corporate money based manoeuvre.

We congratulate all the organizations, individuals, activists, hackers and hacktivist communities who took part in this movement and voiced their views in support of net-neutrality.


We need "FREE Internet"


Balkanized(FreeBasics) Internet...

On December 17, Facebook unleashed a massive campaign trying to win support for its Free Basics platform, which has been the subject of a lot of controversy.This is in the context of the consultation paper put out by the Telecom Regulatory Authority of India, which looks into the issue of differential pricing.


The Free Software Movement of India (FSMI) welcomes the decision of the Patent Office, made vide its Order of December 14, 2015, to revoke the Guidelines for Patenting of Computer Related Inventions (CRIs) issued on August 21, 2015.

The Patent Office has stated in its aforementioned order that having received several representations regarding the interpretation and scope of Section 3(k) of Patents Act, it has decided to keep the Guidelines of August 21, 2015, under abeyance till contentious issues are resolved.

Mark Zuckerberg has extended his support to Digital India and has facilitated people to express their support through Facebook with a special page http://fb.com/supportdigitalindia. However, the source code of the page makes a reference to certain terms which hint at a malified intent.

On an introspection there is a reference to “XinternetOrgProfilePictureController”. The controller code is what
executes on server side, to which end users will not have any access or knowledge about. There is another suspicious class name “_internetOrgProfilPicture_prideAvatar” which is further assisting javaScript code. This could be sufficient to suspect code being invoked to support InternetOrg.


The new Guidelines for Examination of Computer Related Inventions, released by the Indian Patent Office on August 21, 2015, are illogical, and violate the spirit and law contained in the Patents Act of 1970 (as amended), and could pose a grave threat to innovation in our country.

These Guidelines enhance the scope of patentability of software by permitting applicants to merely show innovation in the software portion of their application, rather than in both software and hardware, as required previously. The Guidelines also increase the scope of patenting for mathematical and business models, thereby indirectly permitting software to be patented (for instance methods of encoding /decoding).

Legislative history and the language of Section 3 (k) of the Patents Act make it clear that software as a stand-alone is not considered patentable. It is settled law that only software as a part of a larger invention can be considered for a patent. Accordingly, an innovation can only be granted a patent if it can show novelty in both the software and
hardware portions, when taken together – not in the software alone. Further,a mathematical method, a business method or a mathematical algorithm cannot be patented at all, irrespective of whether it is embodied in software or not.

We as users of telecom services and members of the Indian tech community, were shocked to learn a few days ago that Airtel was carrying out unsolicited packet injection into all content viewed over its 3G networks.

It was revealed that Airtel was tampering with its user's online communications on its 3G network, and maliciously inserting advertisements into its user's data. This ensured that all users of Airtel's 3G networks were forced to view certain specific advertisements inserted by Airtel, irrespective of the content they chose to view on the Internet. Further, by interfering with the data packets to and from its customers terminals, Airtel has clearly acted in violation of the privacy rights of at least thousands if not millions of Indian citizens and has rendered their online communications unsafe.

The aforesaid revelations, made in public interest, by an Indian citizen, Thejesh GN, has however brought about an absolutely unethical and disproportionate response. An Israeli company, Flash Networks, purporting to be the creator of the software responsible for the illegal packet injection on Airtel's networks has issued a 'Cease and Desist' notice, that threatens civil and criminal action against the Bangalore based developer. In a mala fide and clearly desperate attempt to silence any talk of Airtel's violations of Indian citizens constitutionally protected rights, Flash Networks has also had the relevant explanatory content posted by Thejesh taken down from the Internet. The initial violations of privacy and network neutrality are now being compounded by an attempt to violate an Indian citizen's rights to free speech!

FSMI appeals to all other groups working on net neutrality to oppose Airtel and Flash Networks illegal and unethical actions and share this code widely, thus defeating corporate attempts to muzzle citizens right to free speech (which are only intended to cover up acts of corporate malfeasance).

Sharing the relevant portion of the code is merely intended to illustrate the methods used by telecom companies to illegally and unethically mine user data thereby rendering their communications and personal data vulnerable. This serves the purpose of educating the public on a vital issue concerning the violation of Constitutionally protected rights and encourages others to continue to expose the use of malicious code against users by telecom companies, without their consent.