Tangled in the Web

Tanzina Choudhury
Posted May 20, 2011 from Bangladesh

As I regularly write for some national newspapers, I often use some search engines to see whether my writings have been published or not. Things were going all right until the other day when I surprisingly saw that some misleading results were showing up with which I do not have any connection.

The irrelevant results were some links of a Website Statistics Assessor which I found out to be ranking keywords and websites according to traffic, backlinks, etc. Their purpose seemed to be good (as how I felt when I went through their main homepage and later, when I had talks with one of the Webmasters through mail) and I would not have been agitated at all only if they had not queued my name with some other results with highly negative (in fact- "BAD") outlooks which produced every chance of creating a negative impression about me in the minds of people who are in my contacts. At first, what was the queuing technique and how they did associate my web-publications with such defamatory links seemed absolutely mysterious to me. But upon approaching, I felt really lucky to find the Webmasters highly cooperative and they dealt with the problem as promptly as I had expected. From them, I learnt that they were just indexing the search engine results and their links appear just by default with no intention to harm anyone’s reputation. But the fact is that, the traditional values prevailing in the South Asian nations make maximum people lack rational judgments and in-depth understandings with regard to these kinds of issues and most of the times, they pick the negative ideas first- which is really threatening, especially when the person in question is a woman.

We cannot afford to keep ourselves aloof from the internet at this digital age. In fact it can be said that the internet has become a virtual world where we experience virtual friendships (often which are proved to be as strong as the bonds we share with people in our material reach) as well as are highly prone to virtual humiliations (often which are as threatening as the corporeal ones)!

Therefore, now time has come to raise our voices against the socio-virtual threats. Internet laws should be defined more clearly and should be aimed at working against the unauthorized use of anyone’s name or other personal information (as well as images) in any website without that person’s consent. In addition, every website should make sure that none of their activities or work methodologies do unknowingly act behind the defamation of any person. Also, the perception of the society should change. Just because some undesirable links are appearing, it is really wrong to build a false perception without making crosschecks and logical judgments to make sure whether one is actually linked with the links or not.

I hope World Pulse, being the voice of women-around-the-world, would convey this issue to UN Women as well because-- we, women (especially women from the developing and underdeveloped nations), are the most vulnerable ones to be harmed, misinterpreted and defamed due to these kinds of problems and with the current cyber-laws prevailing in the national and international levels, it is often really hard to get many of the actual virtual-guilty penalized.

Therefore, I conclude with a call for a better web-environment for women where we could fly like birds, touch our dreams, and be able to protect ourselves from all cyber-threats followed by potential social maltreatments.

--- Tanzina Ahmed Choudhury ---

In a time when freedom of expression and equal access to knowledge and ideas has become synonymous with access to the Internet, World Pulse is asking women worldwide: What does "Universal Internet Access and Digital Freedom" mean to YOU? This month, we invite you to raise your voice by writing about the everyday obstacles you face and risks you take in accessing the Internet, or how you have used it to change lives and bring about positive change in your community. Click here to learn more about this campaign and how to participate.

Universal Internet Access

Comments 5

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  • Jade Frank
    May 22, 2011
    May 22, 2011


    Thank you for this journal, and testimony to the importance of not only universal and free Internet, but also an Internet that is void of cyber-threats. I admire the steps you took to ensure your name wasn't misrepresented - by repeatedly contacting the webmaster and standing up for your rights. Your journal really makes me think - about how many people out there have perhaps made a snap judgement on MY character based on "googling" my name.

    World Pulse is committed to raising these issues with the UN and other policy-makers. Thank you for speaking out on this issue, for participating in our campaign, and bringing voice to an important side of this issue, that many of your sisters worldwide may not be aware of. As you addressed in your testimony - women are often the most vulnerable in cyber attacks due to ineffective laws and social stigma.

    I will keep you updated Tazina on the progress of our campaign!

    In solidarity and friendship, Jade

  • Tanzina Choudhury
    May 22, 2011
    May 22, 2011

    Thanks Jade!

    Hope that the UN Agencies start looking into these kinds of issues ASAP.

    Peace- Tanzina

  • Daniela I
    Jun 03, 2011
    Jun 03, 2011

    I appreciate your input on this important issue, and like Jade, I admire the proactive steps you have taken to both verify how your name is being linked online and the contacts you made to address your concerns. This takes a lot of thought, consideration, and courage. As a volunteer for this campaign, I wanted you to know that your testimony, along with all others inspired to write on this issue, is being organized to be used as a powerful tool at key events and discussions.

    Best wishes, Daniela

  • Tanzina Choudhury
    Jun 03, 2011
    Jun 03, 2011

    Thanks Daniela..... :) ---Tanzina

  • Breese McIlvaine
    Jul 05, 2011
    Jul 05, 2011

    Over the last month, you and other PulseWire members from around the world expressed your views on the importance of Internet access, and the barriers they face. The testimonies address real barriers—like cost—where paying fees at an Internet café can mean skipping a meal that day, or battling frequent power outages can make blogging one post, a multi-day task. Women have also shared security risks faced in connecting online—from the dangers of walking to and from Internet cafes to government censorship. Yet despite the challenges and risks women endure, what has emerged is that the benefits of Internet access outweigh these challenges, and connecting to the web has enabled friendships across oceans, access to fellowships and funding opportunities, and a venue for any woman—anywhere—to have a global voice.

    Meanwhile, the United Nations Special Rapporteur on the Promotion and Protection of the Right to Freedom of Opinion and Expression, emphasized the vast benefits of Internet access in his report to the Human Right Council arguing that access is a universal human right, and urging governments around the world to pass laws protecting the freedom of internet access and information. "Given that the Internet has become an indispensable tool for realizing a range of human rights, combating inequality, and accelerating development and human progress, ensuring universal access to the Internet should be a priority for all states," - Frank La Rue, UN Special Rapporteur and author of the report.

    This Action Blogging Campaign will not be the last of our efforts to advocate for universal access to the Internet. Here at World Pulse we hear your concerns and are committed to addressing them. As an online community of women leaders, we want to make sure that women’s voices and their specific concerns about this important issue are heard.

    Read the testimonies from PulseWire members around the world >>

    Read the UN report >>