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Pakistan Monitors Websites For ‘Blasphemy’ Against Islam

Free speech is precious. We don’t realize how much but maybe as Pakistan monitors websites for “blasphemy” we’ll begin to understand. Pakistan banned Facebook last month when someone wanted people to submit their drawings of the Prophet Muhammed. Now Google, Amazon, Yahoo, Bing and others will be monitored for what Pakistan deems “blasphemous.”

YouTube was also banned by Pakistan for sacrilegious material according to their definition of sacrilege. The monitoring of the websites in Pakistan began with the banning of 17 websites by court order. These sites contain, according to the LaHore High Court, blasphemous material. My Way News reports that one of the banned sites is a site called islamexposed.blogspot.com. The “blasphemy” in this case is headlines such as “Islam: The Ultimate Hypocrisy.”

Pakistan is not the only country that has monitored or banned websites. China has monitored websites searching for blasphemy against their god; the government. Other Islamic countries do and will most surely follow Pakistan’s lead in suppressing freedom of speech. Islamic extremists can’t afford for other thoughts and ideas to penetrate their world of indoctrination.

Here in the states, the Obama Administration is looking to “regulate” the internet. Regulation is just another term for monitor. If the Administration has their way, we could be on the slippery slope to outright suppression of our First Amendment rights if they are allowed to monitor sites that may be in opposition to Obama’s policies.

Pakistan monitoring websites for “blasphemy” is a scary thing. The internet is a place for the free exchange of thoughts and ideas. Sure there are wacko’s out there, but even they have the right to speak their peace.

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India: Now, chat with Aamir on Facebook

Aamir KhanBollywood star Aamir Khan says he will soon post his first message on microblogging site Twitter but before that he plans to do a live chat on Facebook to keep the impostors at bay.

“I’ve been using Facebook a lot… the problem is anyone can be an impostor on the Internet. So I am thinking of a live chat on Facebook so that people will at least know it’s me and not some impostor,” said Aamir.

And the reason for the actor’s concern is genuine. “I have close to 300,000 friends on Facebook… I stay in touch with my friends and fans there and both of us know each other,” he said.

Looking dapper in a jet black Chinese collar suit, the 45-year-old was in the capital on Wednesday, in a younger than ever avatar, to launch two new smartphones – Samsung Wave and Samsung Galaxy S. Aamir is the brand ambassador of Samsung.

Asked about joining Twitter, as advised by none other than the Big B, he said: “Since Amitji has asked me to join Twitter, I guess I will soon have to be on the social scene as he has got that kind of voice, I just can’t say no to him. But I don’t know how regular I’ll be on Twitter.

“Amitji showed me the functions of Twitter when we were in London and right now I am just trying to understand it. I’ll send my first tweet soon.”

Source taken from: http://www.hindustantimes.com/Now-chat-with-Aamir-on-Facebook/Article1-558971.aspx

Fatimah’s Say: The article above tells us the importance of Facebook for even Celebrities. Aamir Khan is one of the most famous actors in Bollywood these days. He too feels Facebooks makes connecting to his fans much easier. On the other hand, Facebook allows people to open fake profiles of anybody even of those as famous as Aamir. This way Facebook profiles can sometimes decieve people. However, despite the cons, Aamir doesnt think of cutting from Facebook. He is trying to find ways of proving to his friends and fans that his profile is genuine. Facebook may not be perfect, but it is still rocking the world!

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The dark side of the Internet

By Princess Fatimah Tariq

Most of us know how the Internet has revolutionised the world. Communicating with family and friends has become immediate despite the distance, getting work done through the internet such as paying utility bills online have made chores easy to complete. People are now able to publish their opinions, posts, news, talent and portfolio for the world to review. The current generation and the coming generations have become so addicted to the Internet that now it seems impossible to live without the Internet.

I could go on and on about the remarkable opportunities the Internet has brought forth, however, this post aims to bring light to the “dark” side of the Internet. That side which is not visible to many people in world. A side which requires some thought and attention before it goes out of control.

To start off, I believe that the key selling point of the Internet is its ability to communicate with people especially those who live a good distance away from your houses or work places. The Internet has allowed people to send documents, files, pictures and portfolios from one country to another. It promises easy and convenient communication. Yet people fail to see how difficult this has made our lives. Being able to communicate instantly has now lead to companies requiring their employees to work from home and respond to their office emails after office hours. The easy and instant communication method has also given birth to a new trend. People find it easier to send messages on Facebook rather then call a person who lives in the same city or even speak to him if they are in the same building.

Furthermore, being so glued to our emails and social-networking sites, it is now assumed that if someone doesnt reply to your email or Facebook comment within 24 hours, it means that he or she is in trouble or not well. Now where did that come from?? The Internet has made our lives run at a speed that is hard to cope up with. We are expected to be online 24/7 responding to family, friends and businesses. It has now made it harder for us to have a day off to ourselves, without expecting to respond to anything.

Also, the Internet makes it hard to amend mistakes or take something given back. If I send an email containing important documents to someone and then realise I have sent it to the wrong email address, I have no way of taking the email back. Even if the person says he would delete it without reading my confidential information, there is no guarantee that it is going to happen. The internet makes files very easy to duplicated with perfection and store the file in multiple places. A search through the computer would also make it close to impossible to search if there has be no duplicates of the email

Moreovere, the Internet has made our life an open book especially due to social networking sites like Facebook, Twitter, Orkut and Friendster. There is no such thing as privacy. Anyone can google my name and be able to find information about me such as my email address, date of birth or pictures of how I look like. If I ever need to hide my identity from someone, lets say a stalker. I would not be able to do that without cutting myself completely out from the medium.

Lastly, many people have been jailed, fined and/or blamed for bridging copyright laws using content available on the Internet. The fact is that many of those people don’t even intend to break copyright rules and get sued for thousands (that’s the least). Using content from the internet is mostly free, but there is no guidance or clear definition of how copyright laws are applied on the internet. I believe that for such an incredible invention, it is not that hard to come out with an application educating and warning people of the limit allowed within the copyright fences.

In conclusion, there is no doubt to what a spectacular invention the Internet has turned out to be. However, I wanted to raise awareness that this medium in not perfect. It has so many flaws and hidden dangers that many fail to recognise.

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The Web is my biggest terrorist

By Princess Fatimah Tariq

Dear Readers,

As my name suggests, I am a Muslim. My religion has unfortunately now become the face of terrorism and I feel that one reason why this is happening is because of the World Wide Web.

With approximately 1.5 billion Muslims, Islam today is the second-largest religion in the world and arguably the fastest growing religion in the world. Being such a dominating religion, there are many Muslim who like me have the priviledge to browse the web for both work and play. A couple of days ago, I stumbled upon a website that shocked the life out of me, www.thereligionofpeace.com. This website describes my religion as “a big stack of dead bodies”.

I find that the internet has really gone out of hands. People now have the freedom to post and publish whatever they like that could be as sensitive as religion. Such people make the Internet look ruthless and a medium of no respect. It makes the public lose trust upon the content brought to us by the Internet. I also find that the freedom on the Internet makes people not think before they publish their thoughts. They stop thinking about ethics and how others feel with regards to the same topic spoken about.

Moreover, information published on the Internet such as the offending website has a bad impression on those who do not know about Islam. Giving the religion a negative perspective, many people are bound to hate Muslims without getting to actually know one. In this case, the Internet could become as dangerous as a factor encouraging genocide.

You must have heard about the famous, recent Facebook incident involving cartoons of the Prophet Mohammad as a dog and other humiliating figures. Such images posted by anti-muslim groups invoke tensions between people. The Facebook page on Prophet Mohammad become so serious that a number of Muslim countries including Pakistan and Bangladesh had bycott Facebook for a period of time. This incident has also alerted Facebook who has promised to be more active in looking out for such aggrevating pages, posts or comments on its site.

If you are interest to find out more, search for “Facebook” and/or “Pakistan” “Bangladesh” on my search bar on the left-hand corner of the site. This will lead you to some of the recent articles on facebook and the Prophet Mohammad Issue.

I hope people using the Internet realise that if they continue to use the Web for wrong purposes it will lead to governments implementing stricter Internet policies that might limit our usuage of such a remarkable invention. This fear has already risen in the mind of the government of China who is now known to have set some of the most rigid rules on the Internet.

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Facebook: The Goods and The Bads

By Princess Fatimah Tariq

http://lifeinthenhs.files.wordpress.com/2009/02/facebook.jpg

Today more than 400 million people are active users of Facebook.  50% of the active users log on to Facebook on any given day. That’s about 200 million people in the world. And whats the surprising this is that people spend over 500 billion minutes per month on Facebook just to update themselves on their family and friends whereabouts. (Source: Facebook Statistics)

In my opinion, Facebook has had a much significant impact on Asians than on the Western side of the world. I would elaborate on this by segmenting them as follows:

Social Aspect / Cultural Aspect

By nature, Asians are known to be conservative and reserved. They tend to stick to their own business and are not as bold as westerners when it comes to socializing. The reasons for this may vary. Some say its because of the way Asians up-bring their children, and others say because they find themselves on a disadvantage when conversing in English. Facebook is a platform that allows people to communicate with both Asians and Westerners. It also gives those who use English as their second language, to take their own time to construct sentences and reply in English. In addition, the social networking site allows shy people to remain in their comfort zone (i.e. in their houses) while communicating with the world. This is why sites such as twitter, blogger, wordpress and facebook have encouraged all those “quiet” Asians to voice out. Countries such as Iran, Egypt and Pakistan, are seeing an increasing number of citizens communicating and speaking freely about their thoughts through such platforms. Facebook plays a role in changing the way Asians behave and act these days.

On the other hand, Facebook allows others to interrogate into ones life and seek information that might be personal. Having a profile on Facebook would allow people to know how I look like and the way I dress. It makes one feel that there is no privacy. This affects Asians such as people who come from reserved background or staunch religious groups (Muslims for example), who are not very open minded and might get agitated with the way people of their “caste” are behaving.

Political Aspect

Six days ago I got the news that “George W. Bushes opens a facebook account”. This doesn’t come by as a surprise to me as he is not the only politician on Facebook. To name a few, we  have President of U.S.A Barrack Obama, Former President of Pakistan Pervaiz Musharraf, President of Indonesia Susilo Bambang Yudhoyono, Governor of California Arnold Schwarzenegger and the list could go on. (click on the word list to see more names).

“Facebook leaders say their plan is to provide a forum for politicians of all stripes to reach one of the most sought-after demographics — young people who have turned away from television and newspapers. And the site — by one measure the seventh most popular in the United States — has already experienced overwhelming demand from candidates of both parties, though a spokeswoman would not name names”, quoted from Boston National News.

Facebook is seen as a means to “speak” to the younger generation. It allows politicians to express their thoughts in a much cost effective and fast way. However, if you look at it from a normal citizen’s point of view, one must becareful of what he/she is saying. People risk speaking back to the politicians. To express their thoughts in return. You never know the next moment you might receive a sue letter from the court. One example would be that of my high-school classmates facebook comment:

Arooj above wrote in Urdu (national language of Pakistan) that she feels that the leaders ruling Pakistan are corrupted.  Mehzaab agrees with Arooj and Ticky warns her to be careful of what she has written. The above comment was posted today (9th June 2010). This shows us that today many people have their own agreements and disagreements with politicians but Facebook being a transparent platform it is easy for politicians to be dominant and sue those who are just expressing their thoughts with no intention of inflicting harm.

Career Aspect

Many people see Facebook as a site that also helps build career prospects. It allows Asians who usually stick within their circle to network with others from the other side of the world. They can get away from just interacting with their high school friends and start networking with those from their industries. It also enables people to speak directly to the industry experts and if they have a good, detailed and complete Facebook profile, it is bound to impress the potential employers. In basic words, it allows people to market themselves to the world.

However, to use Facebook to impress your potential or current employers is very hard. It means you would have to make sure you do not have inappropriate pictures in your account, you would have to restrict the comments you make on Facebook to only those that you employer would like and ensure you do not post information that might conflict against your resume.

Conclusion

Facebook has opened many opportunities for the public, especially those who come from Asian countries. Most of the Asian countries are still developing and Facebook permits Asians to learn from the world and see the way Westerners think. It lets Asians speak out what they are going through and deliver their message to the world. It open doors for professional networking and make friends with same and different religions, ethnicities, cultures and backgrounds.

Yet, there are also questions on privacy and risks. It could conflict with Asians reserved nature and cause family humiliation. Furthermore, Facebook being such an open platform, governments fear that their citizens would get out of control. This is why Facebook is making governments implement stricter laws and control the freedom of its citizens. This has been the case of China who are right now fighting against their freedom to express their thoughts on the web.

Hence, Facebook is both good and bad. 🙂

Additional Reference:

http://www.murraynewlands.com/2009/07/politicians-on-facebook-top-10-politicians-on-facebook/

http://www.quicksprout.com/2007/09/19/build-a-facebook-profile-you-can-be-proud-of/


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The Importance of Bloggers in Today’s world

By Princess Fatimah Tariq

Being a blogger and having a good volume of subscribers I decided to write a chapter on blogging. The role blogs play as part of the world and as part of an individual’s life.

The voice of a Blogger

How does one know about what is going on around the world? People usually look through the eyes of a journalist to update themselves with current affairs. But journalists are just people like us who are not able to cover everything that is going on in the world. This is where bloggers come in. Blogging allows the minority to be heard. They have started to unpack the views that were kept hidden such as human rights, violence, women rights and the situation they are putting up with in their country.

It allows people to voice out their thoughts without any pressure. They get the freedom of expression. However, bloggers that talk about politics and topics regarding the government are still quite hesitant with what they say as they do not want to get into any sort of trouble.

Blogs allows voices to be heard globally. For instance, there have been majors protests against the police in Egypt. The Egyptians were tired of fighting for justice and the voices were being ignored. Egypt has a thriving community that is now voicing out vigorously on the internet. Now we hear them. The world is taking action.

Other issues like women rights in the middle east are generally not covered by the press, especially in the west. Blogs do them.

There is one downside, that is language. Although English is now a universal language, there are many people who do not know how to read and write english. This makes it hard for them to write in a language that people from other countries can read and it ends up with Chinese blogs being read by people from China only. Another issue is that most bloggers belong to Generation X and thus we hear less from the older generation.

These issues will take time to solve. But nevertheless, start blogging guys!

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Copyright Issues in Asia

By Princess Fatimah Tariq

300 years back, in 1709 copyright law was introduced to protect a form or way an idea was expressed. The law protects original musical, literary, artistic or dramatic works (Australian Government, 2009). However, with the arrival of new media i.e. the Internet, copyright laws changed. Many Asian countries became stricter with their laws and practices in regards to the copyright Act. China, India, Pakistan, Thailand and Indonesia were amongst the top countries in The U.S Top Piracy List 2009 (Chinaren, 2009). And the Internet was/is blamed to be a major stakeholder in promoting piracy.

With the arrival of the Internet, a new level of openness and transparency has been introduced. As stated by the Managing Editor of Global Voices Online, Solana Larsen, it is time to rethink the laws of copyright.

According to an article by VOA News in December 2009, some of the key reasons why people infringe copyright laws in Asian countries are that they cannot afford to pay for original materials, rising computer sales, faster internet speed and strict censorship of music and movies encourage people to use the internet to acquire materials they want. In addition, many computer users have become ignorant to copyright laws while surfing the Internet and this has resulted in a rise in piracy (Laput, 2009).

The rate of piracy of copyrighted material has been steadily rising throughout Asia in the past 10 years. This is mainly because there has been a rise in Internet users. Law enforcements have played a major role in reducing piracy yet it is nowhere close to finding a solution that drastically reduces the rate of piracy of copyrighted materials. The most recent attempt to prevent people from copyrighting is the implementation of the “three strike” law. A number of countries throughout the world including South Korea and Taiwan have lately adopted this law that cuts of the Internet access of users who have received three warnings for bridging copyright rules through the Internet. Singapore too is expected to implement this law if research findings give the country a green light (Lemon, 2009).

Many developed and developing Asian countries have also heavily invested in security to detect copyright infringers. This includes providing capital for buying software that uncover illegal files downloaded on personal computer, police force and copyright campaigns. According to the China Daily, China launched a four-month copyright protection campaign in September 2006 that resulted in filing 172 copyright cases which included 28 major cases involving music, books, movies, games and software shared illegally or sold through the internet. 76 websites were also shutdown during that campaign (Haunxin, 2006).

The implementation of the copyright law has had a major impact on many digital media industries and other professions, both in a negative and positive way.

Strict copyright law enforcements have helped to recover lost revenue due to copyright infringements. For example, Software developers lose millions of dollars in sales when Internet users download pirated, unlicensed softwares (Laput, 2009).

However, the Copyright Act has been giving Search engines a hard time. Industries such as Google have been repeated accused of encouraging piracy, which in return is not giving artists they’re full right. A talk by Karl Fogel, author of the book The Promise of a Post-Copyright World, addressed the mentioned issue and claims that search engines do not affect the artist to that an extent as it has been exaggerated. It is as easy to copy an artist’s work on the Internet, as it is to trace the owner of the original work. In fact, the Internet has allowed such Media industries to be healthier now then they have ever been (Fogel, 2006). The works of journalism are being read more now than ever before, music artists are able to reach a broader audience that before, and movies are able to be viewed by more people throughout the world.

Strict Copyright laws could also be seen as a hindrance that blocks people from being creative, by not allowing potential artists to learn from published materials and develop their piece of work. Copyright becomes an obstacle that scares people to learn from the past materials be it a musical, a book, an art or even a published idea. This is because people are scared that they would be fined a ridiculous amount if they took ideas from a piece of work that is easily accessible through the Internet and enhance upon it to originate a new piece of work.

Reference:

Australian Government. (2009). Copyright. Available: http://www.ag.gov.au/www/agd/agd.nsf/page/Copyright. Last accessed 05 May 2010.

Chinaren, D. (2009). Top 10 Copyright Piracy Nations. Available: http://www.blogtactic.com/2009/05/top-10-copyright-piracy-nations.html. Last accessed 05 May 2010.

Fogel, K. (2006). The Surprising History of Copyright and What It Means For Google. Available: http://video.google.com/videoplay?docid=-6283435552434112856#. Last accessed 07 May 2010.

Huanxin, Z. (2006). China to improve copyright protection. Available: http://www.chinadaily.com.cn/english/doc/2006-02/16/content_520675.htm. Last accessed 05 May 2010.

Jones, B. (1998). Software Piracy and the Global Economy. In: – Economic Reform Today. -: Mangement Focus. p24-26.

Laput, P. (2009). Software Piracy in Asia Expands. Available: http://www1.voanews.com/english/news/Software-Piracy-in-Asia-Expands-79942002.html?refresh=1. Last accessed 05 May 2010.

Lemon, S. (2009). Report: Singapore considers ‘three strikes’ anti-piracy law. Available: http://www.cio.com.au/article/315599/report_singapore_considers_three_strikes_anti-piracy_law/?fp=39&fpid=32598. Last accessed 05 May 2010.

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