Bytes for All, a human rights organization with a focus on Information and Communication Technologies (ICTs), has shown serious concerns over Google’s possible support to Pakistani government for surveillance of Pakistani citizens.
As we reported earlier, during his visit to Pakistan last week, Eric Schmidt, Google’s Executive Chairman and Ex-CEO, was asked by Syed Yousaf Raza Gilani, former Prime Minister of Pakistan, to help Pakistan in tracking cross-border movement across the Durand line.
Bytes for All, while quoting news reports, said that Mr. Gilani asked the Google Chairman to help use technology to “compile electronic data of cross-border movement between Pakistan and Afghanistan, which would in turn help tracking down terrorists” and Eric responded by saying that “building up and maintaining of databases through use of information technology was crucial to deal with security issues as well as law and order situation”.
Shahzad Ahmed, the country coordinator for Bytes for All, told ProPakistani that his organization is alarmed by the impression that Eric’s visit to Pakistan appears to be linked to Google providing support to the Pakistani Government to increase surveillance of its citizens.
He said that Pakistan is already notorious for the extent to which it violates citizen’s privacy without due process. That a company like Google, renowned for its support for internet freedom, could be complicit in such violations of rights is very disturbing.
Shahzad demanded Google to clarify its position on its possible support to Pakistan for monitoring Pakistani citizens who use Google services.
Google earlier decided to remain quite over Eric Schmidt’s visit to Pakistan, in fact his whole visit was kept hidden from media for incomprehensible reasons.
Analysts opine that Google’s chairman’s visit to Pakistan and his meetings with political leadership could have made more sense if outcome of these meetings had made their way to headlines, especially that we live in a democratic environment and Google is a publicly listed company.