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5

India Today and its sister channe Headlines Today seems to be unusually prone to "inadvertent" mistakes that surprisingly consistently look deliberate as well as designed to influence the public opinion against Aam Aadmi Party and in favor of Bharatiya Janata Party.

I am no lawyer, but mentioning several "coincidences" that seem a little unbelievable as "inadvertent". Presenting my arguments here in case anyone wants to take this ahead.

India Today published a fake defamatory article about Aam Aadmi Party by "Shanti Bhushan" - its founder

Shanti Bhushan had never written that article. It is unclear how an article echoing a popular disinformation among bjp supporters wanders onto a news website on its own and the founder of the party it defames becomes its author "inadvertently". While the artice was removed after Shanti Bhushan sent a legal notice, the pattern of fake and/or biased coverage continues.

Headlines Today Talk show defaming Somnath Bharti as the world's top spammer and dealer in porn sites

This show traces a decade old blog post about the Topsites scam - not a news organization. A blog that is about as popular as this one. So I imagine this "expose" of paid media influencing electoral outcomes should be investigated at least as vigorously as a decade old post. Looking forward to a call from India Today asking me to appear on a panel.

How reliable are Conrad Longmore exposes? This is among the top results:

mobiquant conrad longmore
Mobiquant got exposed by Conrad Longmore and has written a scathing rejoinder about his credibility as a security blogger.

The purpose of this post not being to do a hatchet job on Conrad Longmore, I simply leave it at this. When a blogger with an unverifiable credibility makes a post, and a news channel does a 3 month investigation on it, one must ask why, because there is no shortage of bloggers with allegations. Your basic tech reporter would know this, but what do you expect when a masala journalist collects a bunch of political blabbermouths and runs a 3 month long investigation based on a decade old post without realizing something as basic as there not being special domain registrars for porn domains and that the buyer buys what they want and a SOFTWARE sells it to anyone wanting a domain, and automated directory content is not created by a human? You might as well sue google for their results containing porn and ban all Google employees from contesting in elections. Or declare that spammy phone directories like Just Dial are not a respectable way of earning a living. Let me not even get started on the Bag It Today scam that happens to be an affiliate of India Today and has the dubious distinction of lowest ratings, complaints of spam, over priced sales, refusals to refund, non-delivery and more - unlike Topsites.

The show does not mention a single law in India that Somnath Bharti broke, yet has political commentators known to have a pro-bjp stand saying things like "Even if pornography were legal, it is hardly a respectable way to earn a living". That was Madhu Kishwar, in case any one is interested. It also features Vinod Kumar Binny, who has been in a permanent state of slander against Aam Aadmi Party informing authoritatively that claims made by Rahul Kanwal are true and that is how it happened. What his authority is, for certifying this is unclear. Also unclear that if he knew that porn domains were being sold by Somnath Bharti, why did he not alert authorities? The programme can only be considered biased, since last I checked, neither Madhu Kishwar not Vinod Binny know their head from their ass on internet crime, have a known anti-AAP agenda AND were invited to comment on the panel on an issue that solely deals with cyber crime. So their invitation to the panel can only be for their comments on the person and not the alleged crime - of which they seem to be as ignorant as Rahul Kanwal, perhaps more.

Somnath Bharti sold porn domains?
Somnath Bharti sold porn domains?

 

Which leaves the question of which competence of theirs qualified them to comment with any authotity on scraper directories, spam, scam or Spamhaus - which, incidentally is an anti-spam organization and service with zero legal authority or independent oversight. If a Spamhaus listing is prosecutable in India, we can prosecute a third of our elected leaders based on ADR India lists too? He is speaking of money that should show in tax returns, but there is no evidence of Somnath Bharti having got that money in the first place.

Additionally, this expose ran on their website next to a targeted advertisement for Modi, which also used the misleading acronym "CAG" - which, on clicking turns out to be a team to support Modi. This advertisement no longer runs - probably because of the model code of conduct.

modi advertisement somnath bharti slander
Narendra Modi's ad targeted to slot next to show slandering Somnath Bharti. Verified from anonymized IPs - not my cookie.

Nor was this the first time a BJP member leveled allegations at Aam Aadmi Party while being captioned as a member of Aam Aadmi Party.

BJP leaders passed off as AAP on Headlines Today
BJP leaders passed off as AAP on Headlines Today

Together, these demonstrate a pattern of deliberately presenting an impression of members of Aam Aadmi Party declaring that it is party with bad practices.

Rahul Kanwal has also consistently made false allegations against Somnath Bharti on Twitter. An example. The person replying to his comment is Conrad Longmore, who originally did the expose of Topsites, in which Somnath Bharti was a minor name.

rahul kanwal allegation somnath bharti topsites
Rahul Kanwal publicly alleged on Twitter that the registration of Topsites changed overnight after his epose, when it had been changed in 2011.

This has continued after elections were announced and Model Code of Conduct was in place. In the India Today Conclave, Rahul Kanwal anchored a discussion between Digvijay Singh, Amit Shah and Manish Sisodia where he remarks that Digvijay Singh and Manish Sisodia are sitting together opposite Amit Shah. This is another echo of BJP's accusations of AAP being a Congress ploy against bjp. Later on the same evening, when Arvind Kejriwal was answering audience questions, Rahul Kanwal brought up the Somnath Bharti "expose" again accusing him of inaction against his own party members. But Rahul Kanwal has to date never mentioned a single India law broken by Somnath Bharti - so what would the investigation be on the grounds of? TRPs?

Somnath Bharti had sent him a legal notice, which he ignored and continued his campaign of defamation. Today, he has produced a "Somnath Bharti" signature - which is not identical to his signature and is asking people to "see for themselves". While the blatant misrepresentations have been downplayed as "mistakes", and the consistent calls for naming the laws broken by Somnath Bharti are ignored, he continues to exploit the gullibility of masses who rarely examine the evidence on display and go by the confidence in claiming that it is proof of wrong doing.

There is a leaked video of "serial liar Arvind Kejriwal asking Punya Prasun Bajpai" (to use Niti Central lingo) to play up parts of the interview. This video was clearly leaked by someone at Aaj Tak, another channel from the India Today group. Their disclaimer on the leak makes no mention off how the footage was leaked or if this is professional protocol, but instead makes a point of stating that *they* broadcast the full interview. Subtext being "whatever Arvind Kejriwal may have requested". Casual conversation between interviewer and interviewed person is normal, as is normal for the person interviewed providing their view of what is important from the answers in terms of editing. I have never been interviewed on TV, but every single print publication that interviews me gets several "guidelines" from me regarding how my interview answers are used. This is because I have been misquoted in edits very often to the point where I don't do these interviews on phone and reply by email telling them strictly to copy-paste answers or not change any meaning. I also often find that something peripheral becomes a highlight and the crux of my argument gets a passing mention if at all. So I often stress that "This blah blah" is the most important from my answer. For someone like Kejriwal, who has had stray comments eclipse crucial issues in media coverage, I don't imagine this concern is wrong at all. It is his answer, and he has perfect authority to say what is the most important point in what he said - which would be the highlight of his answer. Whether channels do it or not, or leak the request rather than derail the interview, and so on is up to them.

I would like post interview footage of other political interviews by India Today group to be examined to establish whether such conversation is a unique thing that happened with Arvind Kejriwal, or if they are in the habit of such undisclosed instructions, which get leaked only for some people. The leak is clearly from within the organization and by a person with reasonable authority over footage tapes - which would be a specific number of people - I assume these aren't left lying around to be lost.

Someone was also able to edit it nicely to engineer a perception. Here is an "expose" of the "expose" by angry AAP supporters.

I also want to note the media bias over the lack of outrage over far more damning exposes by Gulail and Cobrapost that show actual crimes, as opposed to a casual conversation post a joint experience on camera. We have a media creating a perception that a comment really made being important in the interview and thus deserving highlight is a greater outrage than illegal use of state machinery for illegal surveillance of a private citizen for the personal interest of the Chief Minister. Or stings showing how Social Media can be used to manipulate Electoral outcomes. But then, for our media, fair elections seem to be a far more inferior priority than peddling their desired outcomes. We have so far seen manipulated poll surveys as well.

The bias is further enhanced through "hit and run" reporting, where stings against AAP proved to be doctored are broadcast, but not their being proved false. Where Conrad Longmore's expose is quoted, but not him mentioning that there wasn't a single case against Topsites for fraud. Where the "Nigerian raid" is reported, but not the fact of their complaints about forced prostitution and trafficking with collusion of police - which strangely were brought to their "assaulter" instead of those touchingly defending them. Yeah, Harish Salve vanished - to save other people. That is where that "outrage" went, but that was omitted from broadcast.

This clearly points to an attempt to influence electoral results by inventing and perpetrating a negative image about Aam Aadmi Party using television media and violates the right of citizens to receive accurate information through news. I do not believe that an editor does not notice if it is really Shanti Bhushan doing a submission or someone else. Or that they have no idea who they invite on talk shows or remain mysteriously unaware that the party that boycotted them didn't send anyone to participate in their show (or perhaps was not invited). I find it unbelievable that even a tamasha journalist would mistake Madhu Kishwar or Vinod Binny as experts on cyber crime.

In my view, Rahul Kanwal, and other sources of these mysterious mistakes that only "inadvertently" happen in a way that shows one party in bad light happen should be investigated for electoral fraud, and there should be a gag on Rahul Kanwal till the investigation is complete, in the interest of democratic rights of Indians. Parties should be chosen or rejected based on their deeds, not invented media campaigns.

If Rahul Kanwal is genuinely that stupid, then he shouldn't be on air anyway.

2

Headlines Today's slanderous show making allegations about Somnath Bharti was hardly the first they have gone after AAP leaders with "mistakes". Here are two times when they have interviewed "AAP leaders" slandering the party. The glitch? Both of them are BJP.

BJP leaders passed off as AAP on Headlines Today
BJP leaders passed off as AAP on Headlines Today

Neither VK Malhotra nor Sanjay Kaul belong to AAP, and it would be rather tough to make this mistake. considering that random people can't manifest out of thin air on a talk show, and they actually are invited. The few times I got invited at least, the content of the talk show and the stand I would represent was discussed briefly. I can't imagine a talk show blindly inviting people without knowing about political leanings, simply because they at least pretend to show all sides of a controversy or debate. Of course, when Aam Aadmi Party supporters protested, it was an "inadvertent error".

This would still be believable, if the channel weren't littered with such mistakes. For example, a permanent Narendra Modi advertisement next to a show slandering an AAP Leader Somnath Bharti for selling porn sites with "experts" on internet fraud like Madhu Kishwar talking about how even if pornography were legal, it isn't respectable. And allegations of a "scam" except, even the person who exposed the supposed scam, Conrad Longmore says no suits were filed against Topsites or Somnath Bharti by anyone for scamming them. I dare Rahul Kanwal to make the same claim about Bag It Today - a sister business of their channel, that incidentally checks all the "scam" markers - unsolicited emails, unsolicited phone calls, fraudulent offers that turn out to have hidden expenses, non delivery of items paid for and no refunds... only more bogus gift certificates that don't get delivered either. And there are abundant complaints and consumer cases for cheating. Bag It Today has the honor of 179 reviews on mouthshut.com and a single star rating. That's a pretty big consensus.

A show that incidentally proved about as much as the "sting" operation they had broadcast that alleged that AAP leaders took money to protest against people without any money actually changing hands. When the sting was exposed to be doctored, Headlines Today conveniently found a new controversy to ride and didn't notice that expose.

But this also fits a similar impersonation earlier on India Today, the news magazine website affiliated with this channel, where they published an article slandering Aam Aadmi Party by one of its founders, Shanti Bhushan that echoed the BJP propagated myth of Aam Aadmi Party's origins. Except, Shanti Bhushan NEVER WROTE THAT ARTICLE and sent them a legal notice over it. They took off the article, but I kept a copy here. It is written impersonating Shanti and you can read it for yourself to see if such a thing could have been published in "error".

 

2

These are interesting days to be watching media invent news on one end and desperately avoid looking at news on the other. Here are some of the more obvious ones.

Rioting politicians

While Times Now ran a campaign to demand resignations of rioting MPs who sprayed pepper spray and so on, there was a strange sannata on the BJP MLAs who rioted in the Assembly, including breaking a microphone and tearing up documents. If MPs who riot in Parliament should resign, what should MLAs who riot in Assemblys do? Unclear. Times Now did not see them. It seems.

Loss to the exchequer

This one has enough variations to become a meme. Times Now says Kejriwal's waivers for people who refused to pay electricity bills following his call to protest will cost 6 crores, and Times Now is more concerned about Delhi's budget than Delhi's government. I suppose the Delhi government should give him a thank you card, because the attention of a classy channel like Times Now ain't something to sneeze at. They didn't even have a coughing fit over one lakh crore loan write-offs over 13 years revealed by the RBI in November. Most of them large corporate loans. And I don't recall him even noticing the budget. Here are highlights.

revenues foregone budget
Revenues foregone by the country without protest from Times Now make a mockery out of their concerns over electricity bills, but what do I say, priorities. They say rich people are ok with big expenses and haggle with the vegetable vendor? Image: The Hindu
revenues foregone gold diamond jewellery
Revenues foregone on gold and diamond jewellery are about ten times the amoung giving Times Now sleepless nights these days

More outrage fodder may be found here. Waiting eagerly for this year's coverage of the budget when farm loans become a big concern. Or perhaps, with Lok Sabha elections coming up, electricity bills will remain the nation's biggest problem.

Going at this rate parties will declare in their manifesto that if you don't pay taxes you will get a 50% discount after they come to power! ~ Rahul Kanwal

Rahul Kanwal seems to be confusing his troll account with his real life journo account these days, because the party whose leader's advert he was promoting next to his Taj Mahal of slander had already offered to abolish income tax and then did an abrupt about turn.

I zabardasti put this one in, because I didn't want to leave Rahul Kanwal out of this post after the efforts he is taking on Twitter these days, but he seems to have lost it totally these days what with accusing an MLA of dealing in porn websites without evidence, introducing a BJP supporter as an AAP representative on his show and what not. Com-ple-te tizzy. All I can say is that I *hope* this is paid media, because if it isn't and this isn't deliberate, but his genuine aptitude for critical thinking, the price he is paying in credibility is phenomenal.

In other news, Arnab Goswami seems to have stolen Kejriwal's property

Arnab Goswami has admitted on National television that the accommodation allocated to Arvind Kejriwal is on the scale of Buckingham Palace. In reality, it appears not to be a tiny fraction of it. Arnab Goswami should disclose to the Nation that probably isn't interested in knowing, where the remaining property is. More information on Arvind Kejriwal Palace.

To cover an event or a suicide?

If it is Aam Aadmi Party doing a rock concert for the mango man, go ahead, cover a party worker's suicide for personal reasons. The worker had no official position. If it is the messiah of corporations doing a hi tech event, ignore the suicide attempt of an ex-parliamentary secretary of the no-longer-estranged Yeddyurappa, SA Ramdas accused of 5 years of a five year sexual relationship and secret marriage but refusal to acknowledge publicly by a widow who threatened suicide if he continued to refuse to own the relationship publicly. No Masala here. He ain't no Khurshid Anwar or a Tejpal. He was found hanging from the fan and rushed to hospital, where he is recovering.

Kid woke up. Gotta go. I will probably update this post. Hilarious times coming up with the Mukesh Ambani FIR. With media going all out to bat, and usually anti-corruption celebrities, industrialists and politicians maintaining studied "didn't notice what was going on", it has fallen solidly on the media to hold this fort. We're in for good cinema TV. Stay tuned to know more about Rakhi Birla's homework evasion scam and Arvind Kejriwal refusing to answer how his government can improve education with a notorious homework evader on his cabinet... or some such. Maybe new entertainment should be a separate post.

3

Not that I'm saying Headlines Today has a political agenda or anything, just that in the show where they happened to discover this shocking skeleton in Somnath Bharti's closet so skillfully, that no one actually knew the law he broke, there seems to be a permanent slot sold to an advertisement that tells people to "join CAG" to support Modi's election campaign.

modi advertisement somnath bharti slander
Narendra Modi's ad targeted to slot next to show slandering Somnath Bharti. Verified from anonymized IPs - not my cookie.

I have checked this through several proxies and browsers. The ad isn't targeted to my browsing.

Making a wild guess here that Modi's publicity team doesn't actually monitor every single url on the site, so someone handling Headlines Today advertising clearly had to mark that slot targetable and bring it to the attention of someone who will pay to show an ad there. You tell me, paid media or unpaid media?

cag support modi
Join CAG to work with the Profesional Support Group of Mr. Narendra Modi's 2014 Election Campaign

I have no idea whether using names like CAG or CBI or etc in this manner is legal or not. Clearly this ad isn't speaking about the real CAG, since CAG is the last thing Narendra Modi wants around his election campaigns 😀 Even it is legal, clearly it is unethical. Oh shit. I'm copying lines from a crappy Rahul Kanwal show.

Obviously, it will be some propaganda site, but an ad that pretty much implies CAG works for Modi till you click on it and it turns out to be yet another Modi fan club? Hmmmm..... appropriate for a show claiming to expose scams I guess.

12

Just two days ago, we were laughing our heads off at "wget" jokes because the prosecutor in Bradley Manning's trial asked him about using the Linux command "wget" as though it were a dangerous hacking tool, when in reality it is a fairly routine command used to get files. To a world ignorant about what it means, the method of asking itself would convey implications that it was a crime. An offline legal process ignorant about computer terminology.

Today, we saw worse. A fairly bizarre show by Rahul Kanwal on Headlines Today saw Somnath Bharti accused of things that make no sense if you look at the evidence on hand. The show makes several allegations about Somnath Bharti which are highly exaggerated and rather reckless to say about an MLA on National TV. Fact checking some of the stuff.

The title.

Somnath Bharti was world's worst spammer

To the best of my knowledge, this is an outright lie. The ROSKO (Register Of Known Spamming Operators) is a list of "hardcore spam-gangs" maintained by Spamhaus and lists spammers who have been banned by 3 or more ISPs. In 2005, the top 200 of this list had 3 Indian spammers. One of those Indian spammers was Somnath Bharti. This is not a compliment. However, I have found no source for him being the "worlds worst spammer". As far as I know, the title given to the program is a lie.

Kejriwal demanded proof, so it was hunted down and interpreted creatively enough to somehow support a demand for action

Rahul Kanwal begins his show with a bizarre justification. Kejriwal wanted proof to act against his ministers, so Rahul Kanwal has found him proof. Considering the amount of effort that went into digging a decade old story, it is fairly clear that this is a character assassination quest rather than anything remotely resembling news. While Headlines Today is free to broadcast what they like, I am going to take this as a deliberate mud finding and slinging expedition. Particularly since it deals with a case that is a decade old, and proves zero, but goes out of its way to imply that a certain MLA of a certain party trades in porn - in particular this is significant, because there is exactly zero evidence of Somnath Bharti's involvement with porn.

Somnath Bharti sold porn domains? Somnath Bharti sold porn domains?

Now Somnath Bharti appearing in a "top spammers" list is a little suspicious by itself. The stated "rules" for putting someone on that list is a "three strikes" kind of thing, where three ISPs have to ban the operation for spamming before it goes on the ROKSO list. However, as Conrad Longmore, the person who "exposed" Somnath Bharti himself puts it, it was him pointing out Somnath Bharti's association with Topsites that was enough to get him into the list. It is unclear what three ISPs banned Somnath Bharti for him to qualify, but Spamhaus is fairly aggressive on that front, and supporters of spammers go on their block list as well or Topsites may have got kicked by three ISPs while Somnath Bharti was associated with it. So you don't have to spam, even if you tolerate spam, you're it. That wouldn't get Somnath Bharti on the ROKSO list, but I'm assuming Topsites must have been on the ROKSO list at that point, since at no point does Conrad Longmore actually expose anything related with spamming.

Additionally, while Spamhaus is a well recognized anti-spam service, it has no authority in terms of law enforcement. At best it flags spammers very well. This can be appealed against, but there is no neutral body accepting or rejecting appeals, and the word of Spamhaus is all it takes for your name to be kept on or taken off the lists. That said, Somnath Bharti is not currently on any list there.

Conrad Longmore's expose was of a business directory scam, which would involve getting people to pay for a listing in a directory, emails for which, I assume would go to official emails for websites provided for contacting - as opposed to unsolicited mass emails on random accounts - considering that the scammers are trying to deliver an invoice to get paid. Scam, yes if the listings purchased were not delivered. Spam? Unclear.

Somnath Bharti has consistently denied involvement with TopsitesLLC, including in 2004 itself, when his denial got added to the expose listing him. It is now 2014. He is still denying it, in spite of his visiting card being published there 10 years ago. So either he is stupid or there is more to the story than it seems. And there is a bit of a grey area, where Somnath Bharti is clearly involved, to whatever extent. My guess would be a flunky conned into buying into the business or becoming a front for it. That TopsitesLLC existed well before they "picked up" Somnath Bharti is fairly clear from Conrad Longmore's work. That Somnath Bharti was included in the trial when Dan Balsam sued Topsites for spam is clear as well from court records quoted in PCquest

"Directories LLC, Topsites, LLC, Paperless Mail, Inc. Paul Aunger, Somnath Bharti and David Nale have agreed to use only confirmed opt-in e-mail addresses when sending commercial messages and have further agreed to pay Plaintiff Five Thousand Dollars ($5,000) in damages."

What is not clear is the level of Somnath Bharti's involvement in the spamming. Somnath Bharti said the settlement was easier than the cost of fighting a lawsuit in the United States, which is logical. Dan Balsam is an anti-spam activist who makes a full living out of court settlements from suing spammers. So, it also may not have seemed legally viable (my guess). Conrad Longmore himself is unclear on how much of the profits went to Somnath Bharti.

As for Rahul Kanwal showing registration records, it doesn't mean anything. As a test case, I have registered kapat.in (which will contain exposes that will make the government furious, one day) in Rahul Kanwal's name, deliberately making it clear that it is a test case. If I knew his contact info, I could plug it in there, and he'd never know he owned a domain. So, if Somnath Bharti is saying for 10 years that he isn't involved, it doesn't seem all that bright to take registration records and substitute them for his answer, unless Rahul Kanwal wants to answer for what I put on "his" website, right?

If it is a noted spammer serial registering disposable domains to discard when they get banned, why wouldn't they put names of random people they picked up or even use that "ownership of internet property" as a flattering selling point to hook people? You really think the owner of an operation will hand over ownership of operations and internet property to the new chap he picks up? You clearly have a lot to learn about the internet and "proof".

The crux of the issue really is:

By TopSites LLC's own admission, they were turning in $1.8 million a year by 2005. How much of that money made its way to Mr Bharti is a mystery. And quite how Mr Bharti reconciles his questionable past business practices with his membership of an anti-corruption political party is also a mystery.

If Somnath Bharti was taking in a share of a profit of 1.8 million in another country, that would show up as a paper trail unless Rahul Kanwal also imagines illegal channels of transferring funds. A random comment by a supporter indicates that his income tax returns don't show any such income. Rahul Kanwal doesn't show a shred of proof that any money came Somnath Bharti's way. Somnath Bharti himself is claiming identity theft.

"Back in early 2000, server of Madgen Solutions Pvt Ltd was entrusted with an associate by me who misused it without my consent/knowledge. When the matter cropped up, I came to know that the said associate had generated mass emails soliciting business and had also impersonated me on multiple occasions. On exploring I found out that the emails generated were for a legitimate business, originating from a valid traceable IP address and in proper compliance with the laws applicable in the US, ie CANSPAM Act, then... hence this breach of trust between me and this associate of mine was not pursued in a court of law."

I detour to disagree with Conrad's new analysis of guilt and "fingerprints all over", etc and don't think it refutes Somnath Bharti's claim. If the claim is of identity theft, it makes sense that the identity was used everywhere. Hardly likely that the real scammer will expose his own identity if "Somnath Bharti" is what he uses. Also, if this is a person with admin access to the server, he can pretty much do what he wants with it as admin, including putting the topsites briefly on Somnath Bharti's page. It would be phenomenal gullibility, but this is also ten years earlier.

As of this moment, I have access to the administration of six websites that have nothing to do with me. Simply login details given to me when I helped someone over the years and people aren't all that careful with changing passwords. You think if I were inclined toward doing any dubious dealings using them, I'd use my own name to be exposed?

My point is not that Somnath Bharti is innocent. It simply is that whether innocent or guilty, 1. he is responsible for what goes out from his server and 2. he has an explanation that sounds possible, though not probable. 3. I do not believe Conrad is a neutral party on this issue anymore. Not defending 10 year old work that suddenly gets slashdotted into orbit. I don't imagine anyone is going to go "Oh, his explanation makes sense and you probably should ignore my work" - he may not be wrong, but his follow up story assumes that he continues to occupy an investigative space on the Somnath Bharti issue, which I don't buy and I also don't see in his work this year. For example: "Now, I'm not an expert in Indian law (and detractors of Mr Bharti say that he isn'either) " ad hominem is a space his earlier work doesn't occupy.

[inlinetweet prefix="" tweeter="@RahulKanwal" suffix="null"]There is evidence to prove that Somnath Bharti has been selling domains to porn websites. ~ Rahul Kanwal[/inlinetweet]

It is further seen from his presenting Somnath Bharti's links to porn sites, which Rahul Kanwal picked up and blasted onto National Television. Here's the deal. The Topsites were basically scraper sites of DMOZ - they duplicated content found on dmoz.org and the teenage-porn listing that got copied probably came from a page that got later taken down. I am sure there would be other "objectionable" listings.

[inlinetweet prefix="" tweeter="@MadhuKishwar" suffix=""]Even if pornography were legal in India, it is hardly a respectable way of earning a living. ~ Madhu Kishwar[/inlinetweet]

This is akin to blaming Google for its search results. You can find something objectionable and ask for it to be taken out manually, but to say Google showing listings for porn means the CEO of Google has porn links... is stretching the imagination. Now I am even less of a legal expert, but the well hated IT Rules in India would consider him an intermediary who gets a free pass as long as he takes down the objectionable content, etc etc. Because not even our law makers are that foolish.

[inlinetweet prefix="" tweeter="@_AamJanata" suffix=""]Woh saari baatein vastavikta hain, jaisa paper dikhta hain, waise hi hain. ~ Vinod Kumar Binny[/inlinetweet]

Vinod Kumar Binny speaks like some kind of an Aam Aadmi Party expert and claims that what the papers say is correct. This basically means he is an authority with enough knowledge to confirm the allegations. Vinod Kumar Binny needs to explain why if he thought a guy on his team dealt in porn websites, why didn't he speak up. Why didn't he speak up even after going on random rants against AAP. What is his authority and knowledge to confirm Rahul Kanwal's allegations?

Prasanto Roy believes that Somnath Bharti is a scammer. But he makes no mention of who got scammed. The supposed scam is described by Conrad Longmore, who himself writes that no case has been filed against Somnath Bharti or Topsites for it. His original expose itself says that Topsites does issue refunds if pressed. Prasanto makes it appear that the data is acquired, implying that he has no real right to it, but the Open Directory Project data is free for anyone to use. It is publicly available for reuse. So here we have a digital journalist who appears to have a grudge about commercial reuse of open content?

As for contacting people and asking them to pay for listings, I hope Prasanto has heard of "Just Dial", because God knows I've got enough calls from them trying to sell me a listing. He means the owner of Just Dial is not respectable enough for a political party? And his opinion matters, why?

That said, past gullibility is no answer, and if there is criminal or other responsibility that must be assigned, then Somnath Bharti should either expose the person who did it, or bear the responsibility of what happened on his server (which for all intents and purposes means he did it - whatever he claims). But wait. Conrad makes it clear that no case about bogus directory listings was ever brought against Topsites or Somnath Bharti. The one case in US that Somnath Bharti did settle out of court was not a criminal case. So what accountability does Rahul Kanwal actually want?

Spam is not illegal in India. No one complained about his supposedly fraudulent business practices that were the cause of the original expose Conrad did and he states it clearly himself. We could whine about the porn listings, but the IT Act and IT Rules didn't exist when the expose was done. In any case, the sites are gone, and in the random chance they still exist, Rahul Kanwal can complain and get any problematic listings taken out. So why is everyone hearing about how an MLA is into porn as business, "world's top spammer" etc? That too present tense implied for the most part? Never mind. Answer the courts. I can't imagine Somnath Bharti letting this go. I wouldn't.

Now here is the cinching part. Spamming is ugly, we all hate it, it isn't ethical, etc etc. In India, spamming is not illegal. So I have no idea what proof Rahul Kanwal is showing to Kejriwal that he is talking about in the beginning of the show.

Basically, here you have a journalist targeting a political personality with invitees from supporters of competing political parties and one ex-member with a grudge, in a pre-election mood and have left knowledge of internet laws and facts to the wind. I mean seriously, does one believe "internet expert" Madhu Kishwar opining on a directory listing for porn as "making a living" from porn? This is a political soap opera with a "novelty" theme at best.

Highly suggest that Rahul Kanwal leave tech reporting to techies.