CIO Pakistan: Being tech illiterate - banning Google to combat terror

Instead of threatening to ban Gmail services, they could get Google to share info via a court order.

Rabia Garib September 18, 2011

Rehman Malik announced that the Pakistan Government reserves the right to ban Google and YouTube in Pakistan if the “Google Administrator” did not assist ‘them’ in ‘their’ criminal investigation.

Pakistan’s track record on banning sites without cause or notice, is certainly not a very pretty one, but here’s where statements published in the media by technology-illiterate government representatives, make the technology-business community a little worried.

Google is a search engine. Just like hundreds of other search engines, it helps people to search for things that they may be looking for based on keywords and phrases. If you were looking for, let’s say, ‘how to build a bomb in a toilet bowl’, the search engine itself would not have the answer – it would simply find the website where the answer could be found. This is achieved through billions of lines of code and combinations of algorithms which make finding things easier.

But what the Government Rep may not know is this: the user searching for this specific query uses a computer or laptop branded by DELL or HP, which uses motherboards manufactured by Intel, which connects to a wireless router built by Cisco or TP-Link, or an Ethernet cable that’s been made by some unnamed company in China. The bandwidth that the search query travelled across belonged to an ISP or DNO that is connected to a caching servers and firewalls managed by Cisco or Juniper, through more fiber, across hundreds of thousands of kilometers of cable. Transworld manages some portion of the network and almost 30 other large corporations help make it possible for that user to submit his/her query and get a response.

At this rate, the Government Representative should consider naming all these organisations accessories to the crimes being committed in Pakistan. Going on the record and passing an irresponsible statement along the lines of “We reserve the right to ban your services” without any just cause or understanding, makes each of these organisations wonder why they would want to set foot in a country where its leaders and speakers live in the dark ages.

Foggy E-Legislation Continues to Hinder Way Forward

Since the PECO and other Cyber Legislation are still so vague and non-existent, at least in their implementation, discrepancies and a customised interpretation of the law will always be a problem.

Since organisations such as Google (and I think it’s Gmail that the Rep was trying to point a finger at, rather than Google) maintain privacy of the sender (ie: keeping IP private), perhaps instead of running out and threatening to ban one of the world’s largest companies services in Pakistan, this could be the way out:

Government Rep (GR) receives a valid threat. GR justifies the threat in court. Google retrieves information on that specific threat and shares the intel with GR.

End of story. Lack of policy is what makes this entire process so scary and haphazard! Sure there is a lot of chaos in technology, but the systems and processes are supposed to help sort all that out. How is this helping anything ongoing in the country with the technology-business community?

This post was originally published on the CIO Pakistan website here.


Khurram | 11 years ago | Reply If you think there is any intelligence left in the Government and especially Rehman Malik then please you live on another planet!!!!
Hammad Siddiqui | 11 years ago | Reply

I agree with Rabia 100%. Government must realize the impact of these statements on business! Read my today's blog :

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