Tackling illegal web traffic
THESE days telecommunications and Internet Protocol (IP) in Pakistan are challenged by our regulatory authority that is blocking websites. The authority has blocked more than 1,300 mobile SIMs and 3,160 phones/devices through their International Mobile Equipment Identity numbers during the last month and, importantly, over 200,000 IP addresses after the installation of grey traffic monitoring equipment (GTMS) in October to detect and block illegal international incoming voice calls.
GTMS, a newly-developed system which was supposed to detect and block grey traffic, started blocking IPs, including legitimate ones, and IPs of network entities (server/routers) which surely have no association with voice-related communication. It also started blocking IPs of virtual private networks (VPNs) which are used for accessing remote networks securely and are the basic need of today’s networks.
Some organisations use their public IP for their internal network to access free communication platforms like Skype and Viber.
It is true that in a recent case grey traffic was detected and on further investigation it was established that a long-distance and international (LDI) operator was involved in grey traffic. A raid was conducted and the illegal equipment was confiscated and the culprits were apprehended.
According to initial estimates, a total of 11 million minutes per month were being illegally brought into Pakistan.
But my question to all stakeholders still remains the same: how will blocking the bulk of IPs stop grey traffic? Are VPNs only used for voice communication? Who is responsible for blocking without intimation? Shouldn’t we have any online resource/portal for confirmation of blockage rather than waiting for confirmation by upstream providers?
Being a telecommunications professional, I advise the telecommunications regulatory authority to thoroughly analyse data, keeping client usage under consideration. There should be proper intimation prior to blocking.
There is a need for proper discussion and taking stakeholders into confidence before deploying such methods. Internet accessibility should be cancelled or banned for those found guilty of misuse. Simultaneously, rules should be strengthened to white-list the procedure to avoid unnecessary blockage.