Reining in Big Brother

Editorial April 16, 2010

Astory in this publication detailed how intelligence agencies, with support from telecom companies, are engaged in a hectic game of wire tapping.

Most of us are familiar with the infamous 'clicking' sounds said to indicate that someone, somewhere, may be listening in. The situation is so farcical that many key politicians allegedly change their phones in order to have their conversations unheard by other ears.

The main victim of this eavesdropping has been the PPP government the charges that led to the downfall of the second Benazir Bhutto government were largely gleaned from bugged phones.

And there are indications the present government is again a victim to just such tapping. People in powerful places have an inherent distrust for 'liberals' and are reluctant to allow any PPP government to operate without intervention. A key issue is the lack of adequate legislation to protect citizens against the doings of our intelligence apparatus spear-headed by the ISI and protect their right to privacy.

The Supreme Court, after Benazir Bhutto's petition in 1998, ruled tapping 'unlawful' without prior permission. A 2005 policy under the Musharraf regime for mobile phone companies introduced the idea of a 'legal intercept', meaning in practice, phone companies cooperate willingly with agencies.

The hazy legal situation allows much of what is happening and there is very little protection available to citizens. Our legislators need to define and ban wiretapping.

The right to privacy must be safeguarded. Agencies must also be prevented from intervening in governmental affairs and from using this as justification for strategies of dubious legality which have, in the past, aimed at subverting governments.


Meekal Ahmed | 13 years ago | Reply Excellent Editorial. I would go back a bit and say illegal wire-tapping had a lot to do with bringing ZAB's government down as well. Probably a well-honed art by now.
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