If I wanted to I could leave my apartment with nothing but a 10 Euro bill in my pocket and go to the store across the street and buy a prepaid SIM card. No identification necessary, no registration, nothing. Not all countries are that liberal when it comes to national security. In Spain for example, you can’t get a prepaid SIM card without showing your passport. Pakistan is taking things one step further. Not only do you have to register yourself when getting a SIM card, but now you are no longer allowed to keep your phone number should you want to switch operators. Why? Terrorism. If you’re caught doing something fishy with your mobile phone, you can be tried under the 1997 Anti-Terrorism Act (ATA). Your voice calls, text messages, picture messages, even your emails, are monitored 24/7. There’s also a list of words that are banned from being transmitted across an operator’s wireless network.
Would such a thing ever happen in America or in Europe? Absolutely not, but I bring up this story to show how things work in other countries. Nokia Siemens Networks got a lot of heat last year when it was discovered that the Iranian government used their infrastructure equipment to clamp down on protestors. The thing is, most governments require that networking equipment be able to track the types of things that we in the west would consider a major privacy violation. Thanks to the law however, operators and internet service providers can’t use data about you in ways that would make America seem like China or North Korea. That can certainly change, and I’m sure the RIAA and MPAA would love to sue everyone who does a Google search for the word “BitTorrent”, but the there’s always the Electronic Frontier Foundation. They watch your back, even if you don’t know it.
[Additional Reading: Pakistan Today]