Here is a letter I just wrote to the People Union for Civil Liberties regarding their support of Mr. Vijay Mukhi’s suggestion to force key-logging on all Indian Cyber Cafes

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To: national@pucl.org, puclnat@yahoo.com

 

This is a quote from an online news source:
—————————————————————————–
“The question we need to ask ourselves is whether a breach of privacy
is more important or the security of the nation. I do not think the
above question needs an answer,” said Mukhi.

“As long as personal computers are not being monitored. If monitoring
is restricted to public computers, it is in the interest of security,”
said National Vice President, People Union for Civil Liberty.
—————————————————————————–
As an organisation for civil liberties, please consider how would you
feel if the only access you had to the Internet is through a cyber
cafe, and you are forced to divulge personal details including
financials, and deeply personal communication and username passwords
to the various services you use to:
a) the cybercafe owner (please don’t for a moment think that there wont
be large scale local spying for voyeuristic pleasure at the local
level, an encryption and all the tech you can think of will not
prevent it)
b) anyone who has access to the cybercafe logs, which is pretty much
anyone who comes after you to that computer. The logs will be hacked,
and identity theft will happen. there is nothing that can be done to
prevent it from happening. lives and reputations will be ruined.
c) random government contractors such as the F.I.S.T (is that a
serious name!? force-fitting ‘technology’ to make a fake cool acronym?)
who will have no regulatory oversight whatsoever. when the BPO
industry faces data theft by employees at least they have clients who
complain. In this FISTian scenario when some unknown civilian is
victimised by these people who will notice? and make no mistake, this
will happen.
d) a government security force that is a farce. too busy engaging in
turf wars and running errands for politicians, they have not the
faintest clue of what intelligence could mean. newspapers are showing
everyday what a laughably poor record they have in detecting terrorism
cases since well before the Internet was a gleam in some tech-savvy
terrorists eye. are we saying that wiretapping the entire Indian
online population will fix this?
And all of this for what? There are freely available online tools that
can completely bypass any key-logging/screen capture. There are many
simple things people could do to circumvent it at the local level. It
is far easier to deal with key-logging than it is to circumvent a phone
tap! Terrorists know phones are not safe, they now will know
cyber-cafes are not either, and will simply use countermeasures. By
enacting such intrusive provisions, only the poor, innocent, and
non-tech savvy will give up their personal information to the evils
outlined above.
So People’s Union for Civil Liberty, please buck the fashionable
surrender of civil liberty to futile and downright dangerous
posturing, and stand up for Civil Liberties.

sumod.

p.s. if you have people capable of understanding the truth of
technology behind this mess please ask them to review the comments on
this site (http://www.schneier.com/blog/archives/2007/09/police_to_monit.html)
and brief your policy makers on what’s really going on.

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Please write to any ‘authorities’ you can think of to protest this silly pretext for senseless spying. If you don’t do anything now, this will be in future.

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TorrentFreak has a decent tutorial on speeding up your torrent downloads, but watch out for the first tip, it can cripple all other Internet apps including your web browser!

My Windows XP SP2 was installed of an nLite customised CD, with the max half-open connections setting set at 250 (up from the default 10 in XP SP2). Following the advice in the tutorial, I set my uTorrent to 50 connections instead of the default of 8. Within minutes my already open Firefox window would not follow links, new tabs would not even show any attempting connection activity.

After much checking with IE, Opera, in different user accounts no browser worked (all this with uTorrent chugging away with the new setting). Finally I reduced uTorrent back to 8 connections (lower than the XP limit of 10) and now the browser is slowly crawling back to normal. Its still a little flaky but as uTorrent closes its connections this will hopefully stabilise.

Now the kicker is this — I could max out the 1Mbit connection if I removed the download throttles, without touching the max half-open connections (set to 8 by default)! So not only is this setting not really useful, it is potentially quite disastrous for the overall health of the Internet connection.

Best to just leave it alone.

Excel groups numbers in thousands, in the American style. For Indian currency communications this can be confusing since lakhs onwards the number names go up by hundreds and not by thousands.

While Excel itself doesn’t have any option to change the number separator grouping, you can set the preference for your Windows user account.

Go to Control Panel > Regional and Language Options > Regional Options tab > Customize > Digit Grouping

Excel Number Grouping

Or in here? No? Good, lets get started then …