Tripmela sells out its customers

So Tripmela, the travel meta search engine run by Jared Blank has put itself up for sale on eBay. But along with the company and its assets Рit has also decided to sell 80000 strong, validated database as well. 

So I kind of read that as extremely unethical and I said so on Alootechie where I first read this and Jared actually commented, that his privacy policy allowed him to sell the database.

The core issue at play here is that Tripmela is planning to sell its database in seperation from the site on a platform like eBay without validating the buyer, wherein any Joker with a Credit Card can get peoples data. This underlying irresponsibility that is displayed is also a major cause that user privacy is a joke.

Jared reply to my comments on Alootechie

Hi Akhilesh,

It is not at all unusual for companies to sell their email list to an acquiring company – it happens with basically every company that has an email list.

We had it in our privacy policy from day one that our email list could be sold at some point.

Closing down isn’t an optimal situation for anybody (obviously), and we’re hoping that another group can provide our subscribers with the same types of great deals we’ve been showing for more than 2 years.

To which I can only say that

I have pulled up the tripmela privacy policy and the relevant two clauses

Business transitions
In the event Tripmela, Inc. goes through a business transition, such as a merger, acquisition by another company, or sale of all or a portion of its assets, your personally identifiable information will likely be among the assets transferred. Such transfer will be subject to this privacy policy, unless you are otherwise notified

Tripmela, Inc. is the sole owner of the information collected on Tripmela, Inc.collects personally identifiable information from our users at several different points on, as described below.

… third parties are prohibited from using your personally identifiable information for any other purpose.

While the first clause allows you to sell the data, it actually would only allow you to sell the data as part of the site acquisition – and the acquiring party would only be able to use the data as part of ongoing operations with TripMela… not for use with any other site.

There is actually another issue and that on the sale of the site on eBay (currently at 90,700)¬†itself, as per eBay’s¬†Prohibited and Restricted Items List¬†the sale of any form of personal data identifiable lists is not allowed.

Users have to be aware of what they are signing up for especially when they give detailed profiles. We cannot afford to become careless online… Read the terms and Conditions, read the Privacy Policies.

Life imitating Star Trek

How many people amongst us remember the crew of the USS Enterprise D running into an alien ship, – Up the ship’s captain comes in the viewscreen, and the message goes out – “¬†DaHjaj ‘oH QaQ jaj Da¬†”. The magical universal translator would kick in and convert it to ” Today is a good day to die” and the Klingon warbird would blow the Enterprise and its wimpy captain Jean Luc Picard to smithereens… Ok, Ok so i escaped into a bit of fantasy there – the destruction of the Enterprise D that is.. The first part though fantasy no more…

Thanks to Cisco and its Telepresence¬†products videoconfrencing has become an absolute reality. Crystal clear picture and call quality and screen sizes actually belay the fact that parties may be on seperate sides of the world. The newest feature that Cisco is working on right now for telepresence is icing on the cake though,as Cisco¬†will add real-time translation to its TelePresence high-definition conference technology next year, enabling people in several different countries to meet virtually and each hear the other participants’ comments in their own languages.

The service which would be rolled out in the second half of 2009, would be initially available in 20 languages, across a spectrum of continents and languages including Asia, European and Western languages.

Cisco is also planning to bring Telepresence to the consumer masses around the same time, making video-calling an ubiquitous reality Рthis was something that was hoped to have been achieved by 3G services worldwide, but video-calling never really caught on.

The translation system will be able to scale beyond two-way meetings, according to Cisco. In a press confrence demonstration on 10th of December Cisco executives gave the example of a TelePresence session among participants from four countries, speaking in four different languages. Each would be able to hear and read everyone’s words in his or her own language, they said.


Around the same time that the translation system becomes available, Cisco will offer a transcription feature  to perform speech-to-text conversion of video content. This will create a searchable word-for-word transcript and allow users to go directly to the spot in a video they want to see.

UK Wikipedia content filters removed

In what is obviously a win for net users worldwide, UK ISPs have removed the controversial filtering of conten that a governing body construed as possible child pornography.

It was a side effect of this filtering which would also disallow UK residents from activly editing other Wikipedia pages, as it prevented the IP protectection features of Wikipedia from working correctly. This was due the fact, that the whole of UK had been given 1 IP. This would have pulled down the whole superstructure of the community encyclopedia for the UK.

It is a scary fact that this was ever allowed to happen, a self governing Рalbeit non-profit -  body was given control over content that effects an entire country.

The great firewall of … UK

Ok maybe not so dramatic… and maybe not as restrictive as the Chinese version…

Yesterday, it was revealed that the UK is employing a transparent proxy Рin the lines of the system used in china to filter ISPs Рto block pages on Wikipedia. The page in question is about a 1970 LP Cover (Rated M16) which is considered to be in violation of child pornography laws.

The issue here is not that residents have protested the protection of children online – infact that is one thing that should be done whole heartedly, and actually parents should be made an active part of this effort (which is not happening) causing the state to intervene (which is not a good thing)

The problem is the way that it has been done, Users have raised a concern that it was done quietly, without consensus of users and information, the filters were put into place..

My biggest fear is that, implementing something like this in India is actually very possible, and the problem is that peoples laissez faire attitude will allow this…

So say no to two things

No to Child Pornography

No to Government controlled Internet censorship

Yes to parents controlled Internet censorship

NTT DoCoMo & Tata Teleservices – See what the promise of 3G brings

So the deal was  closed yesterday as most people would know Рunless you crawled under a rock РNTT DoCoMo has bought into a 26% stake in Tata Teleservices (The Indicom people). Rs 13,070 crore investment.

So what do I read in it –

  1. Recession – it is a subjective term, this is a time for the long term investors to come forward
  2. Indian Mobile Industry and Market – Still extremely nascent, There is a lot of potential in the form of VAS and even basic communication and data services.
  3. 3G – 3G services will quite possibly be of a world class if not better grade than the rest of the world, with some of the worlds most ablest providers in the market coming in…
  4. Some of the best technology phones – NTT DoCoMo pioneered live streaming television on mobile, but they also have phone which can alieviate the need to run around on trips with computers…
  5. NTT DoCoMo and Tata – CDMA brilliance – This might finally be a reason to switch to the Tata provided service – once number portability kicks in… In my opinion – if NTT brings in its technical knowhow, which I believe is quite likely
  6. Internet – And this one is wishful thinking but I can hope for it – NTT DoCoMo is providing FiBo (Fiber Optic) internet in Japan and with speeds up to 16 Mbps and unlimited… drool..