Privacy Becomes Next Major Threat for Pakistani Users on Internet

Humongous amount of individuals from Pakistan roam on internet, with some organizations calculating them to be over 20 million. You may argue that this is small percentage of total population of the country, i.e. 12 percent – but let’s not forget the fact that 175 countries in the world have lesser than 20 million inhabitants.


Saying straight, we have got a crowd, a huge one, that connects to internet on daily basis for carrying their official, business or personal activities. During the process they use email, Facebook, YouTube, LinkedIn and do literally everything that is possible over internet.

Which, is very productive; we have achieved so lot with the help of internet that one can’t fully praise its existence.

But during the while, each individual interacting with internet is exposed to so many threats, which were otherwise not there before 1999. Privacy being rated as deadliest of them.

Definition of Internet Privacy (according to Wikipedia):

Internet privacy consists of privacy over the media of the Internet: the ability to control what information one reveals about oneself over the Internet, and to control who can access that information.

So if we look around, we see so many cases where our data that is stored online (addresses, phone numbers, pictures, videos, personal information) is at stake.

We recently covered this privacy flaw in FBR’s website, where home/business address, bank account details and other sensitive data is readily, openly and publicly available. Look at all those desi picture websites with thousands of picture galleries available – and all of them stolen from Facebook, orkut, photobucket and other online photo services.

Story doesn’t end here, we have websites that are specifically developed to distribute mobile phone numbers of girls.

Experts opine that online privacy cases happen due to immature or non-protection of data, meaning that the culprits invade your privacy only if you are not well protecting your data.

This happens to be especially alarming for a country like Pakistan where common persons are not very techy and are relatively unaware, illiterate about internet and privacy matters.

In such situations, we at individual level, and the government and semi government institutes at national level need to teach and aware masses about the privacy issues and their implications (some of which have resulted into suicides of many innocent girls).

PTA should be role model for any such awareness campaign. NGO should step forward to push this awareness to grass root level, and we individuals should discuss these privacy matters with friends, family members, in our offices, classes and gatherings.

These TV channels should discuss such issues in their prime time shows, instead of repeatedly inviting those politicians who speak nothing but of their personal interests.

Few guidelines for securing your privacy:

We did few articles in the past, that are pretty relative to today’s topic. So instead of re-writing the guidelines, I would like you to go through these 3 articles thoroughly.

In addition, do this:

  • Whenever you are saving data online, question yourself if it’s really necessary to store data there or not?
  • Make sure that the access of your data is public or private, make sure your Facebook profiles are viewable by friends only (for celebrities – they might need to set it public)
  • Randomize your passwords, make them as meaningless as you can
  • Don’t use same password for your various online accounts
  • Don’t take pictures/videos which can cause embarrassment to you; storing them is suicide.

Spread the word!

Tech and telecom reporter with over 15 years of experience, he works as founder of ProPakistani.PK

  • Privacy is the reason I quit Facebook… Privacy & Facebook completely opposite.

    • Well said, There are plenty data robbers around and facebook is the biggest one.

      • True. Write your status on FB “Leaving for UAE next week” and you will get “Win free air ticket to UAE” SPAM in your Gmail within next 24-hours.

        • I use a special email account separate from others just for social networking sites. I have used this since the days of Friendster, etc. I do not post the address publicly anywhere or send email from it at all.

          I have received =ZERO= spam messages in that account in ten years.

          Maybe you should look at your FB applications or privacy settings. Worse one of your friends could be hacked.

          • 1. If you use Yahoo or Hotmail email, there are less chances that you’ll get a SPAM msg (w.r.t FB). May be Facebook is more interested in selling privacy to Google because they pay them well.

            2. I never asked that those SPAM emails land directly in my inbox. I was talking about the SPAM label in Gmail.

            • Again, check your apps or your friends carefully. Almost ALMOST always it is some app you installed on facebook that is spying on you. Apps can use the “email” permission to see your email address.

              I also see viruses spread by facebook chat messages from my windows infected friends (one or two every six months). Sometimes people set their profile permissions to share with their friends also so if they are infected, something could be grabbing your email address from there.

              But I repeat: NO EMAIL SPAM AT ALL IN ALMOST TEN YEARS for multiple social networking sites. There is no need for conspiracy theories on who pays who for this. Facebook unlike smaller social sites have legal reasons for not giving away email addresses. If your friend installs some application, and it asks for the “email” persmission, the app can ONLY see your friends email address, NEVER ANYONE ELSE.

  • Great effort Mr. Aamir. I am certain that internet users will utilize this info and get benefited frm it to maximum extent.
    Kindly add a “share” button to ur mobile site. This act will be highly appreciated.

  • The problem I guess is the way we in Pk overall see data. On an ordinary Petrol Pump in LHE doing prizes, you will find: * Winner’s name * Winner’s Mob No * Winner’s NIC number * Winner’s car no all written on a piece of paper on the wall. Similarly, how FBR gives away data is also stupid. That’s not it; if you have someone you know in a mobile company, you can get any info out.
    This is a major problem. And does not confine to Internet. This said, it has BIG implications on the net.

  • yes its true mobile companies ke employees he girls ke mobile no leaks karte hain.

  • I was warid post paid user and somewhat 2 months ago i changed my plan to warid prepaid. Well, almost 1 month ago, a person from mobilink called me and offered me to prot in from warid postpaid to mobilink post paid without any deposit condition. from this i concluded
    1) Mobilink stole official data as the person called me with my name
    2) They had more than 2 months old data
    3) Privacy issue is a question mark in warid

    • agree….kuch days pehly mere ufone k number pr unknown number say msg aya k ap ka yehi number mobilink me available hai.arg ap chahty hain to in numbers pr try kren….home delivery ka b likha hua tha…i m using ufone postpaid…..

      • @Navy: Its not possible. No GSM operator share its user database with other GSM operator.
        @Mudassir: There is no privacy leak in your case. If your number was available on Mobilink network, then whats wrong if they offered u to buy it?

  • I will quote 3 examples.

    1- A guy in 50s in PTCL (which we found later about him as he called from his office phone as well) got info of my friend having ufone SIM, called my friend & demanded an apology from my friend for a shut up call that my friend gave to a guy for his immoral messages. That man in 50s claimed that guy doing messages was in an “Agency” and wanted my friend’s apology. who leaked this info? Ofcourse Ufone.

    2- Someone from Bahawalpur also got information of my family friend’s Ufone connection. Then he even told how he got it, Ufone franchisee even started sending him sms. He saved numbers of both. I guess Ufone is funny about privacy of their customers as well.

    3- I came to know this from a friend, his Internet friend (who is working in Zong) called my friend and gave him all details of a Zong number and asked him to call from his Zong number to Zong helpline to get that number of a 3rd person blocked.

    4- You go to a franchise, you will see unprofessional attitude of staff, street boys like friends of franchise staff having access to computers, even staff will not be having their cards displayed.

    So privacy isn’t a big thing for these operators.

    • I agree with you 101%. PTA and operators have shown no concern for privacy of users, this is because in our society we love to peek into even house of someone to see what is going on, this is like fun. Those tom dick and harry sitting in franchises also boldly help friends leaking information of users.

  • I will agree because the people who work in the franchises usually leak user info. There is no check and balance on franchise employees as the franchise managers are usually busy in filling their free minutes by doing personal calls :/

  • Powerful article I enjoyed it. Someone else once said: Story is to human beings what the pearl is to the oyster.

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