The union cabinet (Government of India) approved the creation of National Test Agency (NTA) on 10th November 2017. The agency is to conduct important examinations like UGC NET, JEE, NEET and CMAT/GPAT. The objective behind setting up the NTA is to have a specialised and dedicated body for conducting the entrance exams and at the same time, relieve the Central Board of Secondary Education (CBSE), All India Council for Technical Education (AICTE) and other agencies of their responsibility to conduct these exams.
PIB promoting a fake NTA website?
While fact-checking a media report about the Joint Entrance Examination (JEE) to India's premiere Indian Institute of Technology conducting the exams in Gujarati as the only other regional language, we decided to run a google search on the National Test Agency.
As we dug deeper into the search results, we came across a Press Information Bureau Press note number NB/AKJ/YP/AK/LS-162 dated 30-July-2018 (18:44 IST). The press note was a summary of the reply to a starred question in the Lok Sabha.
The Press note carried the Uniform Resource Locator (URL) to the National Test Agency's website saying that the newly set-up agency has notified the examination schedule for the year 2019 on its official website https://ntaexams.co.in.
The URL appeared suspicious to the team at IBT as the link to a government/educational institutes/agencies website(s) always uses the top-level domain (TLD) .gov or .ac.in.
The URL took us to a website which looked nothing like an official government website. Not only did it carry ads, it also hosts a section prominently which requires the users to fill their data such as name, mobile number, email address and the state they live in, under the garb of 'subscribing' to their latest updates.
As we scrolled down to the bottom of the website, we saw a small text box with a disclaimer that read that it is not the official website of the NTA and that users were advised to exercise 'best judgment' while assessinthe g information available on the website.
We dug deeper
To check who owns the said website we checked the 'who is' directory and found that it was hosted on a server in Delhi and the domain was registered with godaddy. The name of the registrant was missing. Confirming our deduction that it was a phishing website.
Thankfully, our Google search also led us to the original website of the National Test Agency which is https://www.nta.ac.in. Now, the immediate question here is: why did the Press Information Bureau in an official press note circulate the link to a fake website? Did the same website also end up in the Lok Sabha records?
The online registration of JEE Main began on September 1 2018. The examination for the admission to IITs will be conducted and organised by the National Testing Agency (NTA) in 2019.
FAKE NTA WEBSITE: https://ntaexams.co.in
ACTUAL NTA WEBSITE: https://www.nta.ac.in
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