Monitoring SMS messages -Pakistan Press Foundation (PPF)

Paksitan Press Foundtion

Monitoring SMS messages

Sir: The Pakistan Telecommunication Authority (PTA) has directed all the mobile operators in the country to start monitoring SMS text messages sent by mobile users in order to impose censorship and block mobile connections of users spreading anti-government content.

Speaking purely on technical grounds and without going into the separate debate on the morality of the act, the initiated exercise is bound to face the same fate as PTA’s campaign of tracking down stolen mobiles in the country. What PTA does not realise is that technology is always one step ahead.

The advisors behind the idea to monitor SMS text messages seem to have ignored the fact that there exist mechanisms for secure transmission of messages using encryption in all mobile devices. Applications for sending encrypted SMS messages using cryptographic methods is already being researched and its commercial deployment is expected in the near future.

Let’s not waste our energies and resources on a fruitless exercise which will take us no where. Should we not instead strive to encourage freedom of expression using advanced technologies for the benefit of establishing a just society?
DR IRFAN ZAFAR
Via email
Source: Daily Times
Date:9/9/2007