Pak women lobby Cisco and McAfee
Pakistan based Bolo Bhi (Speak up) describes itself as ‘an organization with focus on advocacy, policy and research. We are a team of individuals with diverse backgrounds who are passionate about the same causes. We believe it is crucial to bridge the gap between rights advocates, policy makers, media and average citizens.’ It’s CEO, COO as well as many key members are women.
Bolo Bhi is leading a very successful campaign to fight an online censorship system being created in Pakistan. Bolo Bhi is advised by Ms. Jehan Ara who is the President of the Pakistan Software Houses Association for IT & ITES. (Key women behind Bolo Bhi can be seen at their website ). In the past, NASSCOM has invited Ms. Ara to a conference in Mumbai. Bolo Bhi has been interviewed by America’s leading newspaper New York Times, and their news article brought their message to all the movers and shakers in the American political and tech leadership.
Pakistan’s ICT Ministry issued a request for proposals (RFP) for a National Filtering & Blocking System on February 22, 2012. It asked applicants to submit proposals to the fund by 3pm on March 02, 2012. This was later changed to 16th March, 2012. If successful, this would be Pakistan’s answer to the great firewall of China which blocks everything critical to what the Government believes is right.
Bolo Bhi’s campaign has helped put extraordinary pressure on tech companies which could sell such equipment to Pakistan. Bolo Bhi has personally approached 8 Tech and Telecom firms not to assist Pakistan is setting up this censorship system. Tech and Telecom firms Websense, Sandvine, Verizon and Cisco have made it public that they will not be associated with the Pakistan contract to set up a firewall to censor sites.
Yesterday, online security giant McAfee tweeted: “McAfee has confirmed that it is not pursuing the Pakistan Firewall RFP’.
Most tech firms have now decided that it would be bad for their image and eventually bad business as well to help set up such a censorship system. A lot of the credit has to be given to the Bolo Bhi campaign.
Not surprisingly, Chinese company Huawei has not responded to Bolo Bhi’s campaign request to make public Huawei’s position in getting involved in such a firewall in Pakistan.
(I would like to clarify that there are many men who are also playing equally important key roles in this anti censorship campaign. But I have paid more emphasis on the women behind the campaign as I feel that sometimes we women take a back seat in getting due credit for good campaigns. Also, would like to make a point that Indian netizens may also have to fight a similar battle in our country)
More details at this link
Techgoss note: Techgirl is a senior Tech journalist who reports on the IT, KPO and KPO Sectors for a leading media house. In her spare time, she dabbles in satire in her blog techgirltalk.blogspot.com. Techgirl has been ejected from Twitter for satirizing an Indian Minister. Her satire blog has links to her Times of India interview detailing her being kicked out of Twitter, and then being invited back.