Editor: Rana Qaisar   
Founding Editor: Shafqat Munir   

Fun at the cost of privacy! 

05 Julie 2010 01:24:51

Fun at the cost of privacy!
Facebook: a painful reality

Shaista Malik

Islamabad, July 5, 2010: “I can’t face my family,” said Ms. Sana, a newly-wed girl and a victim of internet social networking -- Facebook. She had an account on Facebook to share her memories of life and day to day happenings. She had added all family members, within the country and abroad. She had also uploaded her wedding ceremony pictures on her Facebook profile.

One day, while chatting with her sister, the account automatically closed without her signing it out. She tried to sign-in again but could not succeed. Assuming that server might be down she became involved in day-to-day household work.

The very next day, she came to know that her Facebook account had been hacked. That person picked her pictures and some information from it, and made a new account on Facebook using her name, pictures and other information. He threatened her and uploading nude pictures, using her name, on U-Tube -- another social networking site.

Her family members -- added as friends on her account -- saw all that rubbish, making her a stigma for the whole family. This thwarting situation was not only faced by both the family members (parents and in-laws) but also by her sister’s in-laws who broke the engagement as soon as they got to know about it. It was an awful moment for Sana’s sister who is still unable to recover from the shock of his life. Besides, Sana is also striving hard to avoid the divorce stressed hard by her in-laws.

Our society is replete with such incidents, of which, a majority is not reported, at all. The sharing of our beautiful memories through different social networks has now the potential to raze to the ground every possibility of social networking. The way it is affecting the concept of social networking, is going to end all hopes people do have in such sort of websites and community networking groups. Fake identity, blasphemous material and the like are going to kill all the charm people might presently have left with.

“Facebook as a social forum is a very interesting concept, however when it comes to stalking and lifting of information from it, it becomes a very serious issue,” says Ms. Salma Malik, working as assistant professor at Quaid-i-Azam University, Islamabad.

In her opinion, the solution is not in the banning of the website, but primarily making the security settings and the administration policies a lot more stringent and better.

To tackle this problem, the government authorities have already established National Response Centre (NR3C) for cyber crimes to curb such crimes of cyber-stalking and criminal access to data. However, only 56 cases have been reported -- one year after establishment of this institution. A proper reporting can help to track down such cases. Public can report such cases to the cyber wing through the website: http://www.nr3c.gov.pk/ , fax No. 926666435 and cell number: 0336-6006060.

“Cyber stalking and criminal data access are well defined laws under PECO 2009 and knowing the seriousness of criminal intent and power of cyber stalking; heavy punishment has been kept for this crime,” founder of NR3C Ammar Hussain said.

The state authority, despite using the control mechanisms, seems failing to combat cyber crimes in Pakistan. However, the problem lies at the end of citizens too, who do not dare report it. Media can also play a great role in creating awareness against cyber crimes.