The system will also log out users who make more than 20 searches within 15 minutes. “If somebody is doing more than 20 searches for slots in a 15-minute duration, there could be something fishy. The idea is to ensure those booking slots manually do not end competing with bots,” said the official.
The official said at least 6,000 users have been blocked nationwide over the last few days for suspicious activity. “We are tracking all such users. If they are found doing this often, they may even be blocked permanently. We are counting the number of searches to prevent bot activity. We also introduced Terms of Service on CoWIN recently to clarify this,” he said.
If they’re blocked, users will get phone calls from CoWIN support to alert them about unusual activity in their accounts.
Other sources said the new terms of service on the portal make use of bots or automated scripts to book slots illegal. “Mobile numbers involved in such illegalities will be on our radar and legal action may be taken,” the central official said.
However, there are fears the new security controls could especially impact citizens desperate for the second dose. Thane’s Chetan Mathapati said he has been blocked. “I wanted my second dose, but was not able to log into CoWIN. Initially, it showed a “Generate OTP Failed” message. Now, it’s saying, ‘Your Account is Blocked Due To Exceeding Our Search Limit, Please read our terms of service’.”
Mathapati said he ended up generating OTPs over a 100 times in a few hours. “I had to generate OTPs so many times because the system kept logging me out after 20 or more attempts at finding a slot. So I had to log in multiple times,” he said.