Millions of dollars to go on checking emails, websites
By: Mehtab Haider
ISLAMABAD: Millions of dollars will be spent and services of our main spy agency will be used to check emails and curb blasphemous and obscene web sites on the Internet, the PTA’s top boss announced on Friday.
A cyber security mechanism for monitoring purposes of voice and data communications has been devised and equipment will be installed with estimated cost of millions of dollars. Long Distance International (LDI) operators have agreed to contribute funds for installing the equipments that will help strengthening the existing loose monitoring mechanism. An oversight board for International Clearing House (ICH) with involvement of security agencies will help to overcome blasphemous and obscene data communication, Chairman Pakistan Telecommunication Authority (PTA), Farooq Awan said while briefing reporters here on Friday.
Earlier it was envisaged that the LDI operators would monitor data and voice communication but now this mechanism was abandoned and governments own institution would monitor this mechanism.
Citing examples of cyber attacks growing rampantly all around the globe, he said that such attacks could paralyse the countryâs economy so it was imperative to put in place the cyber security mechanism. According to his assessment, the cyber security mechanism would cost around $15 to $20 million but it will help overcoming grey trafficking as well as unwarranted communications through emails, data and voice communications.
He said that the government would earn $800 to $900 million after putting in place ICH as it would reduce incoming calls but this amount was almost close to money received in shape of Kerry Lugar Law (KLL) from US.
He said that under the revised ICH mechanism, there would be 8.8 percents per minute which will be charged on incoming calls as 5.9 cents will be charged by LDI and government will earn 2.9 cents per minute.
When asked about criticism of MQM Chief Altaf Hussain for putting in place ICH that would result into expensive calling rates from abroad, the chairman PTA said that there was rate of 10 cents for controlling grey trafficking on incoming calls from abroad which was revised downward to 1.25 cents per minute. This huge reduction has resulted into evaporating Universal Service Fund (USF) with passage of time by causing Rs15 to 20 billion loss,ä he added. He said that this regime was revised in consultation with the stakeholders in order to boost foreign exchange earnings for the government. He said that the government was receiving foreign exchange of around $2.5 million on daily basis
An interesting situation emerged prior to the press briefing as chairman PTA wanted to take journalists into confidence about selection of consultant for completion of much awaited auction of third generation (3G) but member technical who is head of the committee, flatly refused to brief the media saying that the process was not yet complete.
But the chairman PTA, who was all out for ensuring transparency, said on the occasion that PPRA rules would be followed to ensure transparency in this transaction. We will complete auction of 3G by December 31, 2012,ä he added.
The best international practice for Request of Proposal (RFP) was followed to ensure meeting of desired standards and such practices will be followed in the future as well.