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The Secrets We Don’t Tell, Point Blank with Asian Weekly 25th August, 2017

The Secrets We Don’t Tell

Cyber Bullying

The word Sarahah is an Arabic word and it means “honesty”. This new word is also an App that has gone viral because of its purpose, which is to send “honest” but anonymous messages to whomever you like. But guess what it is not the first app to exist and do so; there was the Secret in 2014 and then the Whisper in 2012.

Whisper still exists and on their website they have stated the following: “if would you like to prevent your child from having access to the Whisper app, you can do so by placing restrictions on their device.”

After the break out story of Edward Snowden there have been several attempts to have secret chats, for example the Telegram offers self-destruct option for your chats and end-to-end encryption where only messages are read by the its intended recipient.

Sarahah was designed so that employees could freely give feedback but when the teens caught on it became viral. The ironical part is that it was created in Saudi Arabia by a developer called ZainAlabdin Tawfiq and he did it because he thought it was the best way to share “constructive feedback”.

These secret apps are weapons of cyber bullying. In a recent survey titled “Eleventh National Poll on Children’s Healthy” by C.S. Mott Children’s Hospital in the US parents recognize cyber bullying as serious health and threat issue to their children to up to 30% of the cases.

According to the research done by the University of Birmingham, children and young people under-25 that become victims of cyber bullying are more than twice as likely to enact self-harm and attempt suicide than non-victims.

Just when we thought the Blue Whale Challenge is under control, India has been reporting a few cases across Mumbai, Delhi and Indore. This is an Internet game where after playing it for 50 days the player has to commit suicide. To show his progress, the player is asked to share photos at every level where there is also a sign of self-harm as that is part of the game.

However there are claims too that there is no conclusive evidence that this game really did result into suicides in Russia. According to a watchdog site SNOPES; they claim “The reasons teenagers commit suicide are well researched. According to data from the General Prosecutor’s Office, in Russia 62% of suicides among adolescents are associated with family conflicts and general distress, conflicts with teachers, classmates, friends, and also with the fear of violence by adults and callousness of others. From a report on the topic from the UN Children’s Fund (UNICEF), the increase in the number of suicides “occurs in times of economic crisis and sharp social change.” For example, in Russia there was an increase the number of suicides from 1987 to 1994, when the USSR collapsed. As soon as the company adapted to its new socio-economic conditions, the number of suicides stabilized.”

This actually also opens up a very serious problem that is probably being ignored over the hype of these “secret chat apps”. Why are teens and children gravitating to these to share their feelings and have conversations?

Fear should run down your spine because girls from 6 years of age are body and image conscious and dieting according to the Journal of Adolescent Health UK.

Also according to Young Minds UK one in 10 children and young people aged 5 – 16 suffer from a diagnosable mental health disorder –around three children in every class.

These are not related to Western or developed countries, because of the Internet accessibility worldwide even 3rd world countries are showing serious signs of children mental disorders and suicides. According to the World Health Organization “the burden of depression and other mental health conditions is on the rise globally. A World Health Assembly resolution passed in May 2013 has called for a comprehensive, coordinated response to mental disorders at country level.”

The main agenda should be to focus on the well being of children. They need secure and a healthy environment for their upbringing. However it is not that possible to have the parents or their extended families carry these responsibilities. The Government needs to step up the mental health policies and childcare. Even if the United States has that set up then why is there such a significant rise of suicides in children and mental disorders with the young ones? It is also about sharing culture and maintaining grassroots parenting. This is a vicious generation cycle, which will probably take another generation to fix. The danger is that technology is moving faster than we can control it or us.

 

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Posted by on August 25, 2017 in Uncategorized

 

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Big Brother Watch, Point Blank with Asian Weekly 24th February 2017

Big Brother Watch, Point Blank with Asian Weekly 24th February 2017

Big Brother Watch

 

“I don’t want to live in a world where everything that I say, everything I do, everyone I talk to, every expression of creativity or love or friendship is recorded.” – Edward Snowden

 

 

We live in an ironical world and it has been especially so since the launch of reality TV because that is the closest we as regular people can get to watch other fellow beings. If we can entertain ourselves by watching a Big Brother or Survivors and other numerous reality shows, then why are we afraid of being watched? In subtle ways a husband spies on his wife and vice versa, parents keep tabs on their children, employers check their employees, shopping mall owners watch us on CCTV for security reasons, whichever way you look at it we are being watched.

But what happens when the Government decides to watch its citizens? Edward Snowden broke the news to the world that intelligence agencies watch he and us had the proof and he is currently in Moscow under asylum. While it may sound like a Hollywood film, right here at home we are not far from it. The Kenyan Government announced that they need to tap cell phones for the primary reason to fight the war on counterfeit devices and eventually catch tax evaders through the mobile money transactions. There has been a court order to stop this plan, which seems to have started almost since last year but maybe this temporary step may not be enough.

Currently there are easily over 10 countries where their respective Governments are watching their citizens. In most cases the idea is to prevent rising opposition to the current state of power. Thus, with our upcoming General Elections, is there need for panic? Can these counterfeit devices not be discovered in any other way? Why is there a need to check private data to determine these bogus devices? What will happen when we start to use smart devices such as refrigerators, talking speakers etc to monitor us? Did you know what SMART also stands for Surveillance Marketed As Revolutionary Technology?

When you watch to catch someone, have you noticed how they run further? Well then, a secret is not safe until it becomes one.

“If you want to keep a secret, you must also hide it from yourself.”

― George Orwell, 1984

This entire exercise is an intrusion of privacy. However if it can stop a terror attack or assist in catching the perpetrators then it keeps us safer. Seriously intelligent smugglers will not leave traces of their counterfeit business like this.

As a citizen you need to figure out where the buck stops. Privacy matters more or nabbing criminals? Unfortunately if hackers access your data and use it against you then there can be dire personal consequences.

If you are not guilty then why do you have to worry?

 
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Posted by on February 24, 2017 in Uncategorized

 

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