Sunday, December 18, 2011

SOPA Stop Online Piracy Act will be killing the Internet and the world's largest Social and Cultural Revolution

Say no to SOPA now here

SOPA stands for "Stop Online Piracy Act" or "H.R.3261". The world should join together and get the word out to prevent the approval of such a bill. Why? Its going to destroy social and cultural innovation online across the world and most importantly, prevent developing countries from growing and participating in the today's Information and Knowledge economics of the globe..

SOPA is Unilateral, Single-sided control of the World Wide Web, Domain Names and IP Addresses!

SOPA noticeably promotes unilateral censorship:

"To promote prosperity, creativity, entrepreneurship, and innovation by combating the theft of U.S. property, and for other purposes." —H.R. 3261

If passed, the SOPA Bill will damage the Internet and World Wide Web:
  1. SOPA infringes Human Rights in an Internet, World Wide Web and online world. 
  2. SOPA is Internet censorship. 
  3. SOPA will cripple the Internet
  4. SOPA will threaten whistle-blowing and other free speech.
  5. SOPA may be replicated by other authoritarian governments of the world thus threatens the very notion of freedom of expression. 
  6. SOPA will prevent developing countries to create any intellectual ideas, products or content that is already copyrighted and protected in the US.
  7. Despite the fact that the U.S. has been very vocal against censorship in other countries, it is attempting to censorship itself and will create the wrong example for other countries to follow and implement against their own citizens.
A vote is presently scheduled for Wednesday, 21st December, 2011 this week!

You must understand that:
  1. The SOPA bill was introduced in the United States House of Representatives on 26th October, 2011, by Representative Lamar Smith and a bipartisan group of 12 initial co-sponsors. 
  2. This bill stifles Internet and Web based Social and Cultural Innovation and Free expression as it expands the ability of U.S.only law enforcement and U.S. only copyright holders to fight online trafficking in U.S. copyrighted intellectual property and U.S. counterfeit goods.
  3. It would allow the U.S. Department of Justice, as well as U.S. copyright holders, to seek court orders against websites accused of enabling or facilitating copyright infringement and if the court orders, the actions could include barring online advertising networks and payment facilitators such as PayPal from doing business with the infringing website, barring search engines from linking to such sites, and requiring Internet service providers to block access to such sites. 
  4. It makes unauthorized streaming of copyrighted content a felony. 
  5. It gives immunity to Internet services that voluntarily take action against websites dedicated to infringement, while making liable for damages any copyright holder who knowingly misrepresents that a website is dedicated to infringement.
You must acknowledge that:
  1. SOPA is an example of a narrow elite taking central control of Social and Cultural Expression. 
  2. The global Internet and Web Citizenry have to be always vigilant of these threats that the web might become frightening to use. 
  3. Online Freedom of Expression is breaking down hierarchical assumptions that some do not like. 
  4. The web has already changed, improved or threatened the way society, economy and politics and cannot function like the old days of the Industrial Revolution.
  5. The Internet and Web has given everyone connecting online the opportunity to be anyone, anywhere and anytime. 
  6. The Internet and Web has given everyone the opportunity to be read, heard or seen thus promote themselves in a system that was controlled by corporations and monopolists. 
  7. The Internet and Web have been providing opportunities that have never been provided to the individual human being before. 
  8. User generated self promoted online content is shattering global commercial hierarchies. 
  9. The old hierarchies want to sustain their way to discover new talent, content and opportunities through the network and prevent the individual opportunity to blossom.
  10. The World Wide Web is being colonized by gate keepers and new elites and a handful less than 1% elite would like to control the future of the World Wide Web and free expression.
SOPA will break the Internet and the
World Wide Web!

WE, citizens of the world must help and encourage our policy makers to keep the Internet and World Wide Web free, equal and open for me, you and the entire human race! 

Tuesday, December 13, 2011

SMS Content Filtering in Pakistan - The Real Story and Way Forward!

Česky: Logo programu k posílání SMS zpráv Esms...
Image via Wikipedia
*Note: The research by the author has also been published first here:
"What the *&~#" -1500 obscene words to block from SMSs or just 12 - while the PTA has yet to make up its mind, social commentators marvel at the obscenity of the very idea By Alefia T. Hussain, (The Daily News Sunday Magazine, Pakistan online and print).

The recent news about Pakistan Telecommunications Authority PTA directive to filter SMS content and its sudden decision to withdraw SMS filtration orders drove the world media into a viral frenzy provoking questions such as why did PTA attempt this move in the first place, who ordered them to do it from the government, how did they come about deciding whether the technology to implement such a filter was even there or not and what do they intend to do now? Questions like these have been pouring into my inbox since the issue and as promised, I researched deep into this issue.

I am undertaking some important social, legal, political and technical observations in to account here based on both logic and fact.

There are a number of issues here with a diversity of views and certain technology constraints. SMS abuse, SMS based abuse and SMS Spam has been widely perceived as an increasing concern for both regulators and mobile/cellular/telecom service users globally. In the case of Pakistan Regulatory Authority’s recent directive on SMS based content filtering actually may go beyond these prevalent concerns.

This whole incident lacks basic research!
First of all, as far as my technical knowledge and experience is concerned, the issue has not been assessed in detail in comparison to any existing global example and lacks baseline research. Secondly, total and effective SMS based content filtering against a keyword or a list of keywords as of yet is really not completely possible technically and technologically unless PTA is encouraged to publish its findings and the technical specifications of this in cooperation with the local Mobile/Cellular Operators that how are they going to actually implement this directive.

What triggered it?
According to my initial understanding, this SMS Content filtering activity being carried out by PTA may not have been triggered by any political pressure, political motivations or directions by the Cabinet Division. In fact, the Cabinet Division may now and should be encouraged to explore the concerns raised after this news got out from domestic and global media channels regarding PTA’s sudden content filtering on SMS. Furthermore, the global social media volcano has also exploded with extensive analysis and monitoring of the situation backed by both criticism and ridicule after the news spread through the Internet like wildfire.

Becoming the 1st to do so!
From my global experience dealing with Digital Censorship and Content Filtering, PTA may become the first telecoms regulator in the world attempting to implement such an extensive Content Filtering activity on SMS especially in two different languages but in the same English language script. Not all such news in this case is good news and may have negative implications towards how such regulations and their enforcements are construed by both regulators and citizens.

Why did PTA do it in the first place? Complaints?
So far it is widely being perceived that PTA may have solely issued this SMS Content Filtering directive for implementation by Mobile Operators after receiving complaints from consumers of cellular services filed with the Customer Complaints section otherwise there would be no other official or moral grounds to carryout such an order.

I have observed with many SMS users in the past that they are fed up with the anonymous and abusive messages they receive usually targeted at female members of their families and friends. This is a moral question indeed but maybe for the society to deal with it, not a telecoms regulator which itself is bound to legislative and parliamentary policy.

Upon observing both the English and Urdu Language keywords to be filtered lists that have been widely circulated across the Internet by many local and global media sources, many of the words mentioned in the Urdu Keywords Filter List may actually be a cause for many of these consumer complaints. Yes they are highly abusive terms and morally degraded language possibly used with intentions not actually asserting their meanings but as dual meaning phrases but again these may be morally disturbing for many.

Wrong assessment with no expert grounds!
As there is no public consultation neither carried out by PTA nor any psychological assessments through any official medical sources, PTA may be challenged on its assessment of socially or morally abusive terminology and the tools or mechanisms it uses to weigh immorality or public order both legally and by civil society groups. There needs to be some form of evidence what construes socially or morally abusive in the first place.

Has it incited language abuse?
Most of the words in the English list are actually catalysts of inciting deep concern among a broad range of social actors across the country. This raises concern that who were the English language/lingo experts at PTA that devised these lists and that they may be requested to be brought forward for being questioned publicly or maybe a case should be initiated with the courts under various human rights concerns of preventing access to usual and normal daily English language communication words.

The Keyword Filter Lists in both English and Urdu may require a revisit as well as more research. From the lists that I have gone through, there are many spelling mistakes so it is also evident that when the list was put together, it was not proof read nor it was actually read in detail by the PTA higher-ups. This raises some public transparency and accountability issues around how PTA vets its own processes before issuing directives and enforcement. Public Sector institutions and especially regulators should be very careful in how they propose and display information to the citizens.

No Oversight or Monitoring? No Public Consultations?
In reality, the Cabinet Division should be encouraged to question PTA’s officials that had led the creation of such lists and both the English and Urdu Language/Lingo discrepancies. It may be worth noting here whether religious experts, minorities’ representatives, principal English and Urdu Language advisors were brought together into a committee before designing such a list that may trigger unrest across the masses of the country? Socially this would be properly contested by legislators and courts in more developed nations.

If we study any single sided process that does not involve multistakeholder and public dialogue or even consultation with the Cabinet Division before implementation, usually such a process may only be initiated with the mutual understanding between PTA’s Chairman, DG and Member Technical and the only grounds that so far may make this enforceable are user complaints filed with the User Complaints section of PTA. I would believe that a great deal of thinking and survey would go into before issuing and implementing such directives.

Where's the technology? What, no technology yet?
Technically speaking and for the information of the general public, the SMS Content Filtering will be implemented by filtering software at the Telecom Operators end that actually receive or process and transmit all the sms messages being sent out to their users. I would first like to reference what is an SMSC to understand this process.

Technical Jargon 
(source:wikipedia) When a user sends a text message (SMS message) to another user, the message gets stored in the SMSC (short message service center) which delivers it to the destination user when they are available. This is a store and forward option. A short message service center (SMSC) is a network element in the mobile telephone network which delivers SMS messages.

An SMS center (SMSC) is responsible for handling the SMS operations of a wireless network. When an SMS message is sent from a mobile phone, it will reach an SMS center first. The SMS center then forwards the SMS message towards the destination.    The main duty of an SMSC is to route SMS messages and regulate the process. If the recipient is unavailable (for example, when the mobile phone is switched off), the SMSC will store the SMS message. It will forward the SMS message when the recipient is available.

What is the Validity period of an SMS message? 
An SMS message is stored temporarily in the SMS center if the recipient mobile phone is offline. It is possible to specify a cutoff period after which the SMS message will be deleted from the SMS center. Once deleted, the SMS message will no longer be available for dispatch to the recipient mobile phone (even if it becomes online).

Accordingly, any SMS that is sent from any mobile user is first stored on the SMSC while its delivery is delayed for a few seconds. Then the Mobile Operator can implement a character string search to match keywords against the content of the message and block the delivery of matching content. It simply removes the words and may sometimes give the message “Some text missing” or may simply display some blank spaces for content blocked at the receivers end.

Logical and Technical Bypassing of such filtering!
What PTA may have failed to consider are the deeper technical issues associated with this content filtering activity? Currently SMSC does not have the capability to actually filter out non-alphabet characters. Wild cards such as ***** etc can be used to actually make the scanning software application skip virtually all the words in the list. This raises further concerns that why would PTA approach a SMS Content Filtering issue without first visiting the whole issue both technically as well policy implications-wise? Again this may raise issues of direct litigation of PTA.

Should there be SMS Content Filtering?
As a personal opinion, I would discourage any form of content filtering including SMS content filtering without public consultation. PTA must put into place processes before taking decisions that affect the user/consumers of Internet and Telecom Services that make citizens aware beforehand, educate them, receive and share public comments and then consult with legislators and policy makers the possible issues pertaining to implementation well before enforcement. Even for the current issue,

Lacking Multistakeholderism and Transparency?
In the true spirit of involving the citizens of Pakistan, PTA should have first convened the public including Civil Society, Private Sector, Academia, Public Sector and both Technical and Telecom communities into a multistakeholder dialogue and then discovered whether such an action was in the best interest of the public/citizenry at large or not and more importantly in the best interest of the country both domestically and internationally.

Still actions without appropriate baseline research?
Would such an action help everyone or would it only affect a handful few. PTA so far did not produce any baseline studies on number of SMS users, number of SMS sent per year, per month or per day. There is so far no record on its website about the number of complaints received by SMS users that received abusive content through the messaging service. There were no cell phone numbers blacklisted and published online as a warning. PTA also lacks inviting public comments before publishing of any content filtering directives through either newspapers or simply its own website.

What process? This is the way forward:
PTA should have possibly carried out a rightful and meaningful process before approaching this issue. Before issuing the directive, participation of the actual service users should have been invited and most importantly from SMS users. This could also have been initiated by a SMS to all mobile users so that at least PTA could understand and have figure of the number of service users interested in such an implementation.

PTA may also have attempted to launch a request for comments through either SMS on all networks or launched an online survey posted through its website. After a thorough study of comments from the public and especially SMS users, PTA should have first publicly shared its intent and then gone forward with official implementation once the public comment would have been positive.

The world went crazy because of us! Again?
This issue has really gotten out of hands. It is a global understanding across Internet and Mobile Technology Public Policy circles that any issue pertaining to digital content filtering is a very big threat to human rights and risks violating citizens’ state-recognized civil liberties including but not limited to free speech, press freedoms, right to privacy, right to religious views, and association. The current directive has been perceived both domestically and globally an infringement upon afore mentioned civil liberties of Pakistani citizens.

Help stop the threat of Content Filtering everywhere!
It is worth mentioning here that with the plethora of circumvention and censorship technologies available both free and commercially may encourage and actually trigger a competitive content filtering industry posing a major threat to the privacy and human rights of the citizens of Pakistan. SMS content filtering is an example of limiting or preventing access to our nation’s public communications infrastructure while it may also cause violation of an individual Pakistan’s fundamental right of freedom of expression and access to information.

Privacy Concerns
As far as privacy of Pakistani citizens in terms of SMS usage is concerned, PTA should consider ensuring preservation of Privacy and the current threat around this directive is that that SMS Content Filtering Directive gives all Mobile Operators the unprecedented and uncontestable right to expose user SMS content to third party and third party applications and in this case the Mobile Operators themselves to tamper and obstruct user generated content transmitted in a private manner. Basically PTA may have failed to realize what it is unleashing from its basket of regulations.

Global example of networked ridicule!
Finally, I am of the understanding that so far none of the Telecom/Cellular/Mobile Operators have actually implemented this directive whereas PTA should also take some more time to reconsider the enforcement of its directive despite withdrawal. The oceanic wave of criticism and ridicule generated both domestically and by the global media may actually provoke reconsideration whether such a directive should be actually and fully enforced or not.

From wider discussions during various interactions with the technical and general community, it is perceived that PTA may have taken actions in the past that have actually sent out a message locally and globally raising eyebrows displaying lack of multistakeholder involvement and general public consultation while devising and implementing its telecoms related regulatory enforcement activities especially surround Internet Content Usage and now issues pertaining to SMS content sharing.

Stop scaring our own poor citizens!
It is advisable for PTA that it should work towards facilitating the citizens of Pakistan and not provoke inciting threats and fear because digital communication both on the Internet and through Mobile Technology is the backbone of all social, economic and democratic activities in Pakistan and a fundamental citizen’s right to access information today.

Sleep on it!
There is a further need to create Internet and Mobile Technology Consumer Rights Groups in Pakistan that can have open and direct dialogues with PTA without feeling threatened or pressurized by the authorities so that transparent and accountable activities can be implemented by the regulator while helping and informing PTA before it attempts to create the global chaos and unneeded attention it has recently created through this directive. The regular public monitoring of PTA is in the mutual benefit of all Pakistani citizens as well as the regulator.

Saturday, October 29, 2011

Pakistan Bans Porn as 150,000 explicit content website addresses are officially blocked on social and moral Ground

The Pakistani Internet and Web Scene witness one of the largest filters in the region after China as a bans comes forward imposed under the supervision of the leadership of the Pakistan Telecom Regulatory Authority.

This ban comes after the VPN Tunneling Ban was imposed. Various sources have further shared that there may be further plans to implement blocking on various other keywords that affect the social and moral values of Pakistani citizens.

Such bans are underway without consulting a multistakeholder committee. A total of 150,000 website addresses were added to the filters at the ends of ISPs, Content Providers, Cellular Operators etc. According to a reliable source, the PTA leadership carried out certain meetings to reach this decision at PTA without informing the public at large. PTA has yet to publicly announce the list of blocked websites for transparency purposes. had originally reported such a possibility here earlier this month that has now been formally implemented.

Access Denied in Pakistan is officially confirmed and implemented due to social and moral pressures.....!

Thursday, July 14, 2011

.pk State of the Pakistani ccTLD Domain Report from Pakistan

Graph of internet users per 100 inhabitants be...Image via Wikipedia
The Pakistani ccTLD .pk domain is a critical Internet resource for Pakistan. Established in 1996 by two Pakistani entrepreneurs and scientists settled abroad in the US, the .pk infrastructure has grown to host an approximate of 36893 .pk domains as of 13-07-2011 for the 6th most populous country in the world.

 I have occasionally shared in my research and presentations that for any country, its country code top level domain (ccTLD) represents its citizen's confidence and trust in their country's critical Internet resources, represents their participation in the information society and knowledge economy. It also determines the rate of online or Internet based innovation in all social, political and economic spheres of life for that region.

The State of the Pakistani .pk ccTLD:

.pk domains registered as of 13 July 2011:  36893 .pk domains

*** Irfan Ahmad's .pk domain registration analysis ***
Irfan Ahmad, a Pakistani Entrepreneur (profile) recently posted his statistics and analysis of the state of the Pakistani ccTLD on his blog here presenting very interesting facts and figures. According to Irfan, approximately 50% of the registered domains are whereas 33% represent .pk registrations, 2103 are, 1966 are and 1163 are further distributes the Pakistani federal government and provincial government ccTLD usage as follows:
  • Government of Pakistan has 766 .pk domains
  • Government of Punjab has 121 .pk domains
  • Government of Sindh has 68 .pk domains
  • Government of Kashmir has 14 .pk domains
  • Government of Baluchistan has 8 .pk domains 
  • Government of KPK has 5 .pk domains registered.
The .pk ccTLD has also issued, and as follows:
  • 196 domains
  • 121 domains
  • 12 domains
.PK Yearly Growth Pattern
As far as the .pk domain registration growth pattern is concerned, Irfan maps out the yearly growth pattern through the following infographic that has shown a significant increase of domain registrations and interest from 2008 onward representing increased awareness and adoption among Pakistani Internet users, entrepreneurs that are both local and international companies doing business in Pakistan.

.PK Top 20 Pakistani Registrars
According to Irfan's analysis of the Top 20 Domain Registrars, Nexus Technologies, an Islamabad based company that has offices in almost all major cities stands as the leader registering around 2126 .pk domains. The closest competitor is Websouls and the public sector ISP COMSATS is third. Brain Telecom one of the oldest ISP players in the market also boasts a significant number of .pk registrations. Though ServerSea Hosting leads in the top level domain registration market in Pakistan, it sits very low in the chart given by Irfan.

Summarizing some occasional points I make during my work:
  1. Domain names managed by ICANN are divided into 2 major categories. First the gTLDs or “generic top-level domains” and secondly the ccTLDs or “country code top level domains” which represent a country level designation.
  2. Each country recognized by the United Nations has a country code top-level domain based on the ISO Standardized country code name that is a two letter character.
  3. A ccTLD provides regional credibility on the World Wide Web and or Internet for a country and its citizens.
  4. The ccTLD for Pakistan is .pk that was established in 1996.
  5. A ccTLD represents the nationality of an individual, group, community, society, organization, company and government. 
  6. A ccTLD helps in identifying the source of communication and helps develop a trust relationship.
  7. A ccTLD website may or may not be physically located within the country represented by it.
  8. Every country carries its own specific guidelines for the use of its ccTLD.
  9. In some countries and regions like the Canada .ca domain or European Union .eu domains are only available for Canadian or EU based companies and individuals. For any Canadian individual or business, they must meet Canadian Presence Requirements here in order to register a .CA.
  10. Some countries like Colombia .co and Micronesia allow anyone from anywhere to register ccTLD domains
  11. ccTLDs help its registrants in avoiding obscure wording and misleading domain names
  12. ccTLD restrictions on who can buy a ccTLD helps registrations in securing reliable and user-friendly registry
  13. ccTLDs promote the distance from the global market helping registrants offer more personalized customer care 
  14. ccTLD based regional/country identification as well as branding helps registrants to take advantage against being lost midst other saturated domain name extensions.
  15. ccTLD also helps in localizing the location on the web. It may be prudent that for certain forms of content, ccTLD domains help find the required local content on any given subject or entity.
  16. ccTLD's are managed as companies, public-private partnerships or by academic or research institutions. 
  17. The value of a ccTLD can be linked directly to that country’s economic and investment environment. Its growth represents its participation in the local and global Knowledge Economy, the participation and trust of its citizens in its Information Society as well the quality and growth of Knowledge Workers in the region  though that is not the scope of this discussion.. 
  18. Lower rates of ccTLD registration can also be linked to brain drain in certain cases though that is not the scope of this discussion. 
  19. Most of the successful and high-growth ccTLD's are the ones managed through Public-Private Partnerships for example the Indian ccTLD .in is managed by the Public-Private Partnership called NIXI here that is amongst the fastest growing ccTLD in the world approaching nearly one million .in registrations.. 
  20. The .PK ccTLD is a privately held entity.
  1. ICANN:
  2. PKNIC Registry:
  3. Irfan Ahmed's PKNIC Domain Registration Statistics:

Tuesday, June 7, 2011

Skype Down Again! Skype faces login problems on 7 June 2011

Skype Technologies S.A. logoImage via Wikipedia
The skype service has been down now for a few hours not allowing me or many over the Internet to login. ZDNet has also reported a company representative stating that 'some' Skype users may have been having problems logging into the service but we know that is an understatement!

There were reports of tweets also popping up on asking whether Skype was down? According to ZDNet here, Skype's Social Media Communications Manager Peter Parkes was reported to be saying, that, "A small number of you may have problems signing in to Skype. We're investigating the cause, and hope to have more details to share soon." On the otherhand, even the moderators of the Heartbeat blog, where this post was originally published have appeared offline to its users.

At 2:15 PM Geneva in Switzerland, Skype still appeared to be out of service and it is not even attempting to connect anymore therefore appearing to be a major glitch. I wonder if its one of those ddos attacks happening that have surfaced across the world on both private and public networks.

Also remember that this has nothing to do with the new buyer of Skype because the deal hasn't even concluded yet, yeah it was announced but then you know what happens in the corporate world for such large deals, it takes time...give them a break!

Tuesday, April 26, 2011

The Royal Wedding and the Internet Crash - Will the royal wedding disrupt the Internet?

As the impending Royal Wedding between Prince William and the bride-to-be Kate Middleton to be taking place on April 29, 2011 comes closer, the Internet and World Wide Web is witnessing a massive inflow of information, rumors and pictures about the new English Royal Couple.

This has compelled blogs like GigaOm to share their concern here whether the Royal Wedding will break the Internet or not. The post is surely based on creating some F-U-D, that is, fear, uncertainty and doubt around one of the most hottest entertaining topics online. GigaOm shares that that Prince Charles and Princess Diana’s wedding was watched by 750 million people in 1981 on television in 74 countries.

It was the most viewed wedding according to Guinness World Records. The current Royal Wedding ceremony might beat that record as the British Cultural Secretary Jeremy Hunt anticipates two billion people watching it thus a storm of streaming could bring down networks and sites around the world. I would doubt that because the foot ball world cup was also the most streamed event across the world last year!

The British royal family's official YouTube channel here will be hosting a live stream of the BBC TV feed covering the royal wedding ceremony scheduled to begin At 9 a.m. GMT/1 a.m. PDT and the invitation is already out through the following video:

Times of India reported here that there is a mention about the Royal Couple every ten seconds on the Internet. The Times reports that a new study based on the data compiled by an Internet Marketing Agency called Greenlight Marketing Limited identified here that an average of 9000 posts a day on the subject during the last week has been contributing to the flurry of internet "noise" about the impending nuptials.

More than a 700 percent rise in the mention of the royal wedding has been witnessed compared to March. Greenlight reports that there has been a total of 158,000 posts online about the the royal wedding since March until now and that is a 38 percent  ranging to 60,964 in the last seven days. The popular topics audiences are viewing include but are not limited to keywords like cake, wedding dress, gifts, guest list, hair and make-up, rings and the wedding party. These topics generated over 15,739 during the week while the topics about dress, guest list and gifts are in the top three bracket.

The following infographic by Greenlight shows the search trends of the royal wedding:

Just to give an example of the royal wedding flurry on the Internet, the following video uploaded by T-Mobile celebrating the Royal Wedding is an example of how much excited the global Internet audience feels. As of April 26, 2011, the video has been viewed/downloaded over 11,729,671 times already:

It is agreeable that the global audience's interest and fantasy to witness a real royal wedding even if its of a couple of the British Royal Family is enormous and the Internet and Web might face certain hick-ups as more and more people follow the news till the live coverage. However, the resilience and stability of the Internet does ensure that when such kind of global event coverage takes place online, it can manage the pressure to a great extent but at the end of day, software and hardware is always vulnerable and so is the network to such hick-ups online. Let's hope for the best and good luck to the royal couple.

Related articles

Saturday, March 5, 2011

Google is taking down Gizmo5 after integrating VoIP telephony service into Gmail/Gtalk

Image representing Gizmo5 as depicted in Crunc...Image via CrunchBase
Yet another company is facing a shutdown after being acquired by Google. Gizmo5 here was acquired by search  giant Google in 2009 and according to its website and as reported by TechCrunch here will be shutdown on April 3, 2011. Basically Gizmo5 services will be discontinued. Gizmo5 was the creator of various VoIP services that after being acquired by Google were integrated into Gmail and Gtalk. This continues to be an example of how larger Internet intermediaries are acquiring smaller companies and strengthening their position in the communications market.

Sloppy Google - Website and video shows what would happen if Google was human operated

Google Logo officially released on May 2010Image via Wikipedia
Have you ever wondered what would happen to Google if it was actually operated with humanistic characteristics? This would mean being lazy and laid back while taking search requests from users and trying to give back search results. An artistic website called Detour Lab presents a Sloppy twin of Google here, a yawning search engine with humanistic characteristics. Its worth a visit and it does make us think of how things would be the other way around. 

Friday, February 11, 2011

Mubarak Resigns and Internet Revolution 2.0 successful in Egypt- Egyptians win Freedom with Internet Revolution 2.0

SHARM EL SHEIKH/EGYPT, 18MAY08 - Muhammad Hosn...Image via Wikipedia
The world is witnessing the jubilation, the joy and the achievement of the protesting citizens of Egypt as Egypt's Ex-President Mubarak was reported to have left earlier for Sharam-El-Sheikh with his family and finally handed over his resignation over to the Supreme Council of Armed Forces.

The regime collapsed only a hour ago at around 9.00PM Pakistan Standard Time after a revolution ignited with the Internet and World Wide Web swept Egypt originally as a peaceful demonstration call against lawlessness through a Facebook page setup by an executive of Google as shared in my earlier post.

Congratulations to the citizens of Egypt, the Internet, the World Wide Web and Internet Revolution 2.0! The end of 30 years of Mubarak's rule in Egypt has come to an end by a revolution led by the citizens of the country!

This is only the beginning for Egyptians, they have got rid of the Mubarak regime but are yet to get rid of the corruption, lawlessness, injustice and strengthen the country as well as its countrymen and countrywomen amidst the crimes committed against the people of Egypt!

Al-Mabrook!!!!Mabrook!!!! Congratulations to the protesting Youth, Women, Children, Civil Society, Everyone and Martyrs of Egypt!

Look forward now Egypt!

Thursday, February 10, 2011

Egypt and Internet Revolution 2.0 - Did Wael Ghonim trigger an Internet Revolution 2.0? What are the implications for Internet Governance?

CAIRO, EGYPT - JANUARY 30:  Exhausted Egyptian...Image by Getty Images via @daylife
The Google Egypt executive that was detained for over 10 days by the Egyptian authorities, then release to find so much change already taken place including human casualties amidst the protests taking place in the country has appeared amongst the protesting Egyptians as their leader and to what Wael termed as the Internet Revolution 2.0.

 Wael Ghonim is originally a Google executive living in Dubai with his wife and two children. He had gone to Egypt to participate in the protests but was arrested. The reason for his arrest according to the media (CNN here), Wael Ghonim was the trigger point for launching and organizing the initial protests against police brutality and human rights violations happening on Egyptian citizens. This effort evolved the protests in to the present form that have convulsed Egypt for more than over two weeks now. Wael facilitated the protest by creating and administering a Facebook page and/or Facebook group that the media reports is widely credited for calling the first protest on 25th January 2011.

The abrupt reaction of the Egyptian Authorities to clamp down on Wael Ghonim resulted in his being recognized as one of the young revolutionaries and leaders of an emerging youth opposition protesting against the Egyptian Government in the current circumstances. Wael called the Internet as one of the key catalysts and trigger point for the revolution and uprising of the citizens in Egypt terming it as an Internet Revolution 2.0.

AS Wael Ghonim, now being termed as the Che Guevara of the Internet and Web age coins the term with reference to the Egyptian uprising against the authorities, what are the implications for a possible Internet Revolution 2.0 for the rest of the world?
  1. The Internet's evolution, penetration and adoption is triggering new forms of social and economic changes.
  2. These new forms of changes in human society and organization may be termed as Internet Revolution 2.0 that allows human beings from any corners of the world to connect, collaborate, share and organize from anywhere facilitated by various social media tools and platforms to come together and trigger or catalyze change.
  3. This change may be productive or counter productive for historic, traditional or prevailing forms of democratic, dictatorship or monarch governance systems.
  4. The capability for any human being to 'become aware' of his or her negative circumstances and any violations of their basic human rights may be the pressure breaking points to turn towards the Internet and the World Wide Web to connect with other human beings that may in similar conditions within the same community, society, country or region resulting in mutual sharing, finding solutions to common problems or organizing into new groups to seek change.
  5. This new form of networked social organizing to lead, trigger or catalyze change brings new implications for the existent socio, economic and political governance systems.
  6. The Internet Revolution 2.0 is about human rights, mutual human respect, transparency and accountability and moreover, openness and acceptance of change.
  7. For Internet Governance, Internet Revolution 2.0 is an evolving phenomenon especially when the governments, private sector, civil society, researchers and academia across the world have not reached any consensus on the governance of the Internet Revolution 1.0.
  8. Internet Revolution 2.0 has only become apparent with the current affairs of human uprising, protesting, activism, freedom of expression, demand for basic human rights and awareness of their needs in the North African Arab and Middle Eastern countries but what form is this taking remains both a question and challenge.
  9. Some countries are moving towards more openness in governance and government using the Internet and World Wide Web through the phenomenons of Open Government, Open Governance and Open Government Data but it is yet to be determined if Internet Revolution 2.0 will be the reason for wider spread and adoption of such openness through the global network at the speed we are witnessing today.
  10. Yes, an Internet Revolution 2.0 may actually be evolving will we as human beings connected to each other respond to this new global change..........remains the primary question!

Tuesday, February 8, 2011

State of in Pakistan - Facebook remains the most used website in Pakistan.

Image representing Facebook as depicted in Cru...Image via CrunchBase
Facebook usage in Pakistan research:
I was recently studying searching and surfing habits of Internet users from Pakistan online and where they usually go to for getting information online and am sharing some of the statistics and knowledge gathered about Pakistan's use of Facebook across various sectors and segments. I also dug deep into how Pakistani companies and brands were using Facebook to promote their services or build relationships with their customers and fans but I will share that information in my next post.

Global statistics:
According to's global statistics page here, over 500 million users are active out of which
50% log on to Facebook in any given day. An average Facebook user has 130 friends and people tend to spend over 700 billion minutes per month on Facebook. The time is usually spent around over 900 million objects that people interact with including pages, groups, events and community pages whereas an average user is connected to 80 community pages, groups and events.

The average user also creates 90 pieces of content each month sharing more than 30 billion pieces of content including web links, news stories, blog posts, notes, photo albums, etc. Facebook is now hosting more than 70 translations its website thus about 70% of Facebook users are outside the United States and over 300,000 users helped translate the Facebook website through the translations application. Facebook also shares that more than 200 million active users of Facebook are accessing the website through their mobile devices constitute twice the population than non-mobile users and 200 mobile operators in 60 countries are working to readily deploy and promote Facebook mobile products

Asian Internet usage statistics:
According to the Facebook statistics page on the Internet World Stats website hereAsia as of 2010 has an approximate population of 3,834,792,852 out of which 828,930,856 are Internet users and out of these 93,584,580 are Facebook users. This represents a 2.4 % (as of August 31, 2010) Facebook Penetration in Asia. The ratio of Facebook users in relation to the total number of estimated Internet users in each country or world region for Asia stands at 11.3%. The total Internet Penetration in Asia stands at 21.6%.

State of Internet usage in Pakistan:
The current registered population of Pakistan stands at 177,276,594 as of 2010. The country is spread out over an area of 880,254 sq km. In the year 2000, Pakistan only had 133,900 Internet users but today Pakistan has over 20,350,000 Internet users as of Jun 2010 with a 11.5% penetration as per ITU statistics. ITU also reports 168,100 broadband subscribers as of June 2009. The Internet user growth rate between 2000-2010 has been 13,716.3 %  and constitutes of about 2.2 % of the total Internet users in Asia. Thus the Internet penetration rate according to percentage of total population is an approximate 10.4 %.

According to the Pakistan Telecommunications Authority PTA as reported by here, the latest statistics for Broadband subscribers in Pakistan stand at 10,00,000 (1 Million) respectively. There were1.052 million broadband subscribers in October 2010, up from 994,911 subscribers in September 2010. DSL companies added the most subscribers for broadband and stood at 516,167 subscribers in October 2010, up from 488,946 in September 2010.

EvDO service providers totaled 15,540 subscribers in one month, while WiMAX companies added a total of 14,066 subscribers in the month. Total number of WiMAX subscribers in the country has hit 306,665 mark, up from 292,599 a month ago. According to, DSL remains the top technology used for broadband internet in the country, while WiMAX stands seconds. EvDO is swiftly adding its share for the broadband subscribers.

State of Facebook keyword search on Google by Pakistani Internet users:
According to Google insights for search terms here, Facebook remained the third highest search term searched by Pakistanis through over the last 12 months. It also remained the second highest searched term for the past 30 days here from 7th January to 7th February 2011 and during the last 7 days, it remains as the third most searched term on Google from Pakistan here with the Internet user population of the city of Lahore in Punjab, Pakistan standing as the highest searching region for this search term.

Pakistan amongst top global 30 Facebook user countries:
Pakistan remains at the tail amongst the 30 fastest growing Facebook user countries in the world at position number 29 as of 7th February 2011. The total number of Facebook users in Pakistan are 3,65,3140 adding a total of 1,448,920 users in the last 6 months depicting 39.66% growth and penetration at 2.06%. During the past week, over 45,280 users have joined Facebook from Pakistan depicting a 1.24% growth.

Pakistan's 3,653,140 Facebook User Population's Age and Gender Distribution:

  1. 4% Pakistani Facebook users are between the ages 13-15 = 146,126 users
  2. 6% Pakistani Facebook users are between the ages 16-17 = 219,189 users
  3. 52% Pakistani Facebook users are between the ages 18-24 = 1,899,633 users
  4. 29% Pakistani Facebook users are between the ages 25-34 = 1,059,410 users
  5. 6% Pakistani Facebook users are between the ages 35-44 = 219,185 users
  6. 1% Pakistani Facebook users are between the ages 55-64 = 36533 users
  7. 1% Pakistani Facebook users are between the ages 65-+ = 36533 users

The 3,653,140 Pakistani Facebook user audience's Gender distribution comprises of:

  1. 68% Males
  2. 32% Females.

* In terms of Facebook based advertising, Pakistan stands at the 118th position amongst the list of countries that advertise through Facebook with the Average Cost Per Click CPC is US$0.16 and the Average Cost Per Mile CPM is US$0.7.

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