Potential victims of the E-Crime Ordinance?

February 27, 2008 at 11:23 am 5 comments

I have received a few calls in the last couple of days asking whether Internet users in Pakistan and elsewhere can lodge an FIR against PTCL and PCCW for spamming, spoofing, system damage, malicious code and interruption of business – a la the new E-Crime Ordinance. Hmmmm … good question! What do you think guys and gals?

BTW I wonder how many of you watched Breakfast at Dawn on Dawn News this morning. Faisal and Ayeshah discussed the YouTube blockage and its implications with Dr. Umar Saif of LUMS. Some of the things that were discussed included the futility of any government blocking any website because there are always ways around getting to content if one really wants to.

Another point that came across was that the content isn’t being pushed onto people. You have to go looking for it so if it is something that you don’t like, or something that offends your religious, ethical or moral sensibilities, don’t go looking for it. After all there is a lot of stuff out there that is available in other forms that different sets of people may not approve of – books, movies, photos, art, audio tapes, conversation – don’t go view it, don’t buy it, don’t look for it. Then your sensibilities will not be offended.

What next? If a government doesn’t like someone’s face, should it be banned from public view too? We live in a world that is full of people with a variety of interests and beliefs. We don’t have to like everything that is out there but who are we to tell people what they can or cannot put up? Who are we to censor what is spoken or written about or shown? The more important question is “Who is the WE and what qualifies THEM to decide what our sensibilities are and what we should or should not watch or read?”

Entry filed under: Posts.

Elegy to a broken Net Startup Insiders Session # 6 in Lahore

5 Comments Add your own

  • 1. Jawwad  |  February 27, 2008 at 11:25 am

    I think Shakir wanted to sue PIE, we can do a sign up and serve them a dose of their own medicine.

  • 2. Vic  |  February 27, 2008 at 11:48 am

    No, content on the Net is not usually pushed onto anyone. However, it is very true that the Net (or rather, the Web) uses a fairly sophisticated ‘language’, which when incorrectly managed by users can lead to unwanted consequences. What is more, this can happen to users in the ‘learning’ stage, so that children are particularly at risk.

    Two kinds of entities have contributed to this situation, the ‘poisoning’ of the knowledge pool with ‘dangerous’ content.

    One is of course purveyors of ‘spicy’ content, who have proved themselves to be masters of technology, and are almost always one step ahead of the rest of the world when it comes to deploying fantastic tools. This is possible because of the current structure of the global economy, which rewards such efforts with cash, much more cash than say, feeding the poor.

    In principle, it is highly arguable that many forms of ‘porn’ are in reality merely transgressors of current levels of public taste, but there is a lot more, there is definitely a great deal of strong-arm tactics and forced degradation of people taking place, helped by the ease with which the resultant content can be sold using the Net.

    The second transgressor are the purveyor of hate and divisibility, who use the Net to broadcast messages of exclusivity and even destruction.

    Neither of these are subjects that any thinking person can feel comfortable about being freely accessible. But who is to decide, indeed?

    My own position is that national governments have proven themselves over the years to be significantly poor at making and enforcing such decisions, all too often becoming the panderers of more divisibility and destruction. That they are legally right does not lead to a sense of justice. We need better solutions, it is true, but from whom and where they will come, is anybody’s guess.

  • 3. Youtube » Potential victims of the E-Crime Ordinance?  |  February 27, 2008 at 12:40 pm

    […] D’ Technology Weblog: Technology, Blogging, Tips, Tricks, Computer, Hardware, Software, Tutori… wrote an interesting post today on Potential victims of the E-Crime Ordinance?Here’s a quick excerptFaisal and Ayeshah discussed the YouTube blockage and its implications with Dr. Umar Saif of LUMS. Some of the things that were discussed… […]

  • 4. Adnan AKA Boat  |  February 29, 2008 at 10:43 am

    Looks like a missed a good event!

  • 5. Vic  |  March 1, 2008 at 1:28 pm

    Evidently the YouTube brownout was more in the nature of an ‘oops’ event than anything malicious or sinister.

    35 years ago, a chap called Kashmir Singh was arrested in Pakistan, eventually convicted and sentenced to death by hanging. This week, his sentence has been commuted and he is being deported to India, from where he travelled so long back, to return to his family. 35 years of denial and delay, amounting to a miscarriage of justice. The Pakistan Human Rights Minister, Mr Burney, was reported to have searched 20 jails for him, after hearing about his case some years back, then issuing a public appeal.

    Not that everyone is perfect, but when systems are so bad that real humans fall between the cracks, losing a lifetime although still alive, should society continue to support ‘disciplinary’ laws and their rules, even enacting more and more?

    The latest excuse for a range of such laws across the world is ‘national security’, an umbrella beneath which all manner of intrusions into personal privacy are clubbed, leading inevitably to a state of continuous yet avoidable tension.

    In the case of so-called ‘cybercrimes’, the definitions of such offences are so wide-ranging, presumably in an effort to encompass all the directions in which newer technologies will go, that they end up absurdly pushing ordinary levels of acceptable behaviour into the criminal.

    In India, there are instances of legislators willfully ignoring public movements and non-violent agitations to pass patently absurd and corruption-friendly orders. One such proposal, involving IRs 1,000 crores of potential public loss, and the destruction of an historic monument, in a municipal property ‘development’ in Mumbai, is set next week for a second round in the legislature, after public outpourings greeted the first decision.

    The public agitation did not come about automatically, Groups of citizens from all walks of life had to move their neighborhoods to protest to the local legislators, a process that was sometimes laughably witnessed by the absence of the legislators at public meetings (itself remarkable! Imagine an elected legislator not coming to a meeting where he/she is the chief guest!).

    To press a demand for a second look at the e-crime bill, one option is to use the law itself to weigh in, but surely only if the person thus targeted is culpable. Were the players involved in this regrettable foulup, one that cascaded into an embarrassing public spillover across the world, involved in the creation of this e-crime bill? Should either of the primary offenders, whose actions precipitated the accident, be deliberately entangled into a case fraught with such punitive consequences, if they were not actively responsible for the bill itself? It would not be very honourable.


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