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Lose control

Zafar Anjum | Feb. 19, 2010
In the interesting times that we find ourselves in, we seem to be asked to lose control over everything that we have.

A few years ago, there was a Bollywood film song that became a rage in India. Lose controlthats what it urged the countrys youth to do. The song purported to be the guiding philosophy of a bunch of never-do-well college kids.

Well, it is a bit unfair to pluck the song off its main narrative context but its refrain, lose control, pretty much signifies the zeitgeist of our times.

In the interesting times that we find ourselves in, we seem to be asked to lose control over everything that we have. The paradox of this development, if you will, is that what we have is private and at the same time, it is public too. The only thing is that either we dont know about it or we dont realise it. And it all happens in the name of privacy or security or the best of all the ruses, for the greater common good.

Why invasion of privacy?

But why do we buy into it? Because we are made to feel afraid of the unknown. Fear is the key.

This attack on the individual private rights is possible because we are always being kept in a state of fearinduced by catch phrases such as terrorism (real or cyber terrorism, the equivalent of yesterdays cold war and the red threat) or climate change.

Follow the moneythats what matters. If you care to look at it, the business side of this development is that a lot of people are making lots of money off this invasion of privacy.

If you see what terrorism is doing to the countries, look at their budgets. In most terrorism-infested countries, defence budgets are going up every year. Indias defence budget this year is about to get bumped up by 10-15 per cent, according to one report. Now look at the countries that are the largest defence suppliers to India. You will know then who is benefitting from terrorisms perpetuation.

I will keep this discussion strictly to technology issues, even though I have a lot of points to make in this regard that touch other spheres of lifeanything that is or was deemed to be private is now negotiable, more so your personal rights as an individual.

How private is your e-mail?

Take your e-mail or your social networking accounts, for instance. You think your e-mail is private? But if the government wants, it can pry into any of your e-mail accounts, without your permission or knowledge. That at least is true for India and the US.

In the past, a democratic government needed to impose emergency laws to open a citizens private letter. Not any more. Now opening of private letters, that is your e-mail, happens every day in the name of national security. And e-mail companies, that otherwise may not have much smarts to turn profits year after year, can actually mint money on the back of this scandalous scheme.

 

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