Monday, September 27, 2010

Is the ban on RIM justified?

This is my first blog post. Since our dear SAASC secretary did make it compulsory for everyone in creative writing to post something this week and i spent all my time preparing for a debate, i decided to just type out the debate. Luckily, this week the topic of the post could be anything I wanted. I have tried to alter it to make it more of an article than a debate. I would like to apologize if it still seems more like a speech. Read on and comment.

Privacy vs. Security: Is the ban on RIM justified?

To begin i would like to paraphrase Benjamin Franklin “Those who would give up essential liberty to purchase a little temporary safety deserve neither”

I'm not here to tell you that national security is not important. But does RIM really pose a threat to national security? Have there been any reports of blackberries being used? Look at history. The 9/11 attacks happened. The Mumbai attacks happened.

All this happened using Satellite phones (which our government has no control over) and typical carriers, the ones that we all use. It happened in spite of the fact that the government had access to all these means of communication. Blackberry is not used by the common people; its main clientele are large multinational corporations. These are people with large bank balances and would do anything, absolutely anything to access data of a rival corporation. And what we are doing? Giving all this data in the hands of the government. Everyone in this room knows that there is no organisation is this country that is not corruptible.

And why is it that we can't wait to sign over our rights? “Al Qaeda is coming, the Mujahideen is coming, where’s my pen?" Anything to feel safe. Like a parent dangling his keys to distract a child, the government seems to whip out national security wherever they deem it necessary. But this debate is not about national security. It’s not about privacy vs. security. My opponents would have us believe that this is a zero sum situation, but it’s not. Does security have to mean giving up our most basic liberties? It’s a case of liberties vs. control. The reason for the ban is, and i quote here, “they (blackberry services) allow individuals to commit violations that the country cannot control". In 2008 a similar warning was issued to RIM, but nothing was done about it. Now, they've suddenly started giving 60 day deadlines. Why?

It’s the Mumbai attacks. People are scared, and maybe the government wants the public to see that’s its taking steps to prevent such a thing from happening again. Maybe, there is political pressure from already existing carriers. Now all of this is of course conjecture. National security does seem so nice a term. It can cover anything up. Just so people can sleep at night. Who cares if the most basic of our rights is violated?

And why is this the only alternative? Why don’t we consider for a second that we can stop terrorists from procuring blackberries? And then, let’s assume that we can have such an efficient screening process that they cannot get access to these blackberry services (the only part of the phone the government has a problem with)? But why? Why do the effort?

When it’s just so much easier to look into every means of communication and monitor it. If you want to look at people’s bank records, tap their phones, read their e-mails, go ahead, do it. Just say it’s a matter of national security. Why go through the long and tedious process of checking ID’s and checking proofs and then imposing these laws is every part of the country? The easier option is to strip people of their basic liberties, control all means of communication, and blame it all on national security.


Anish said...

I apologize for the font. Apparently half of it was in one font and half in another.

m y s t i c said...

I like your naive viewpoint on the whole matter.

However, I wanted to ask you something. You think the government should go about breaking privacy in the name of security by tapping phones etc and according to you, this would be a viable solution what from standpoint? financial, ethical, national security..?

And I would presume that this would also make you an ardent suporter of US Govt Policies, like the Patriot Act yada yada

Anish said...

Perhaps you should read before calling people naive. I'm supporting privacy in the article. The patriot act of 2001 took away people's rights and since i am supporting privacy, why would i be supporting that?
And i most certainly do not think that is a viable solution.

m y s t i c said...

bah... I mixed it up because of the speech/written article usage...nevermind

mayank said...

I can see why this would win a debate

Avian said...

Well written
A couple of snags I can point to:

Apparently, terrorists do use Blackberry services

2. 'Blackberry is not used by the common people'
Sure about that?