ICT REVOLUTION CHANGING LIFE STYLE
WHILE THERE MAY BE MANY ADVANTAGES THERE ARE ALSO CONCERNS THAT PRIVACY OF AN INDIVIDUAL IS BEING INFRINGED
SHABBIR H KAZMI
July 23 - 29, 2012
Information Communication Technology (ICT) revolution having affected people in the developed world is also having profound impact on the lives of people living in Pakistan irrespective of urban and rural divide. As the digital revolution continues, use of internet is growing, creating new opportunities for as well as improving quality of life. Whether at home or in the office and even on holidays, ICT play a crucial role. It is affecting society, the way decisions are made. On top of this most of the legislation also has a 'digital dimension'. However, it ICT has affected five key areas which need greater understanding to further improve the quality of life. Let one point be remembers that this revolution is driven by changing realities of life. These five areas are: 1) Working Style, 2) Communication, 3) Banking, 4) Decision making and above all 5) Society.
Extensive use of technology has demolished the boundaries of workplace and home. For example, employees need not stay onsite to complete a job. They can work at their own convenience using personal computer and internet connection. Virtual Private Networks (VPN's) connect home and workplace. This gives people extra flexibility and has enabled those who are not able to work full-time like mothers to work from home.
The internet offers an opportunity to those who wish to work at their own convenience. Since some of the works are not dependant on location anymore, people may find themselves working longer than they are getting paid for. Earlier, lives were split up into various segments. Paid work was generally from nine to five and usually the rest of one's life was free from it. Now it is far harder to escape its presence and take a complete break, even when on holiday, due to the potential for employers to make contact with absent staff by mobile phone or email. While there are some hazards, it is also true that the newer setup gives people extra choices and options to achieve a more beneficial work-life balance. People are different; some prefer conventional methods others don't. It is for each one to make his/her choice.
ICT has affected the way people communicate with those they do business, friends and also the family members. Earlier they used to make telephone calls but now they communicate with them more frequently. This has made friendships stronger and understanding people more convenient. Instant messenger programs offer enormous opportunities, including voice conferences with many people at the same time. Messaging allows people to spend more time together as a group. They can exchange e-mails and set reminders using their computers without making any other arrangements. It is possible to arrange things quickly and spontaneously using mobile phones either by calling each other or sending text messages. It is easy to communicate with friends and clients who live faraway, exchange photographs by means of email attachments. Many people find sending an email quicker and easier than writing letters. ICT has changed the way individuals communicate and socialize. It has given them faster ways of contacting each other and is an easy and convenient way to strengthen relationships and make new friends.
ICT is having a profound impact on the way people shop. Before making any decision they gather information about the best deals available 'online' and 'offline'. They can purchase items from overseas which are not available in this country. ICT has been used in normal everyday shopping for a long time using credit and debit cards. It is obvious that any creditable company would not be able to survive without implementing ICT. There is also growing realization that any business which does not have a decent website is missing out on a huge potential market.
However, there is a realization that the 'human' aspect is missing. Shopping with friends has a social side that is not available when one shops over the internet. Customer service has reduced to dealing with a computer rather than a person. It is not possible to see, touch or try the product till it is delivered. Goods that are not found satisfactory when delivered need to be returned, which means additional payment. With the advance of the internet individuals are able to shop globally. It has created a self-serving environment which can be good or bad depending on how one views life.
Decision making at a personal level has been affected after the deployment of technology. The entire decision making process has changed. It has possible to make more informed decisions. Before purchasing anything, one can read multiple reviews on the product he/she wishes to buy. It may turn out that a newer version of the product they intended to purchase has just been released and has some improvements. Price comparisons can also be made on line, allowing the consumer to get the best available deal.
The impact of ICT is much profound than ever realized by many people. The impact is affecting the lives of more and more people every day and the Internet is being embraced by almost everyone who comes into contact with it. Civil rights and legislation has also been affected by ICT.
Introduction of biometric identity cards has been received by different people differently. The common belief is that these cards help in containing identity theft and in the process help tackle fraud and illegal immigration. However, some consider it violation of human rights. Public security is currently a very big issue in politics and it demonstrates how ICT has affected the very roots of society. People are concerned about the creation of a national database of personal information as part of the national ID cards program, and the implications this could have for individual privacy.
People are generally concerned about the reliability and security of ICT in general, especially as a lot of personal information is being stored in a digital format. There is already some legislation in place but there are still areas of misuse that are not currently covered by law. However, people are worried about new legislation fundamentally changing the relationship between citizens and the state.
The internet can be a great tool for many criminals who want to organize and conduct criminal activities. ICT has made great improvements in crime prevention. Databases and police networks have been setup and developed, helping detectives frustrate individuals and groups of people who are set on breaking the law.