Dear IT Minister, PRISM is the story not the “objectionable material”

09 Jun

What was more serious about this part of news “Pakistan’s new IT minister warns Google over objectionable material“? was it being just following the same line that was being followed by previous government or was it completely ignoring most important even in the cyber space,Boundless Informant program by USA government? the cyber espionage? Dear IT Minister, if no one has told you, let me do the honours and tell you that matter of day is Data gathering not “objectionable” material.

When the guard is being handed over and government is being formed one can forgive slight misjudgments, statements that reflect not fully thought out policies; so I am willing to give pass to our new IT Minister in this regard. She wants to restore the youtube but with the filters and willing to put more money in the project. Good that’s the right direction to go (although I don’t know what policies going to dictate those filters, but having a framework is better that blank blackout).  While we are investing in this, we should be closely watching what is happening in the data gathering program. Not only watching when it’s going to hurt one of our institutions but how it’s going to hurt our people. It is time to move our concerns of interests from institutions to the people of Pakistan, defend their rights and their data privacy is their right. 

Mr. Obama has welcomed the debate by the media, it is the debate that does not include anyone from Pakistan. Are we not concerned about it or are we willing partner in this? We are banning Youtube and other websites for objectionable material, we should be seriously considering how the data collected from them could be used to spy on Pakistani citizens.

Why Pakistani citizens are not on the street in a same way they were when some “movies” were posted on youtube?  Majority of them overwhelmingly believe in conspiracy theories and think they are living in the Orwellian society, they could be forgiven for not making much hue and cry about these revelations because to them these are not revelations (this is one of the side effects of believing in conspiracy theories, no breaking news is breaking news, thrills of knowing something which no one knows has already taken them to other dimension). I hope IT ministry has better understanding of these matters. Our government has to become part of the story, put their pressure in. That’s what makes leaders of global statures. There is only certain amount of political capital, it is time to spend it wisely. 

This is where we can reform how the data is collected by the social media, how it is stored and how it is accessed. It is quite smaller in terms of the local politics since it is not about setting up filters to block few pages of profanity. It is quite big in terms of what direction global business will go. We can set policies for future. 

We don’t have technological abilities to that, but that’s the way we should be going not towards setting up filters to block content but to set up the process that controls the content. 

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Posted by on June 9, 2013 in Uncategorized


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