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Fitzgerald Spoke About the Internet Promise at LUMS
Photos by: Wajiha Khuwaja
William Fitzgerald gave a talk on Wednesday, September 12, 2012 as part of a Lecture Series organised by LUMS Initiative on Internet and Society (IIS). Social Media sensation Ali Gul Pir, better known for his YouTube short “Waderai Ka Beta”, was the topic of discussion at a lecture, “What can we learn from Ali Gul Pir?”
Taking the case study of Ali Gul Pir, the talk discussed the immense opportunities for Pakistani innovators on the internet and how they can strategically use the internet to harness their talents, tapping into spheres of business, culture and education to name a few. Fitzgerald talked about the representation of a new brand of internet content-creation originating from Pakistan.
The talk highlighted how innovation and technology is creating opportunities in Pakistani internet users, and which support organisations are aiding in their growth as social players. “Innovation Punjab”, a project by the Punjab Information Technology Board (PITB), draws spotlight on Sidra and M. Hussain, who have managed to turn Hussain’s small leather shoes enterprise based in Okara into an international brand just by selling the shoes on the site www.hometownshoes.com. Supported by the Pakistan Software Houses Association (P@sha) Social Innovation Fund, HomeTown has managed to sell traditional shoes in Paris, UK, Saudi Arabia and Hong Kong. The opportunities are endless for anyone with an internet connection and the knowledge of how to use it. A religious cleric Qari Khalil, hailing from Rawalpindi, was highlighted in the lecture, for someone who has used Skype to teach Quran to students in the US, among several countries.
Fitzgerald encouraged ordinary citizens to educate themselves regarding internet content-filtering and hold policy-makers accountable for their actions. Defending Google’s “bias towards more information” approach, Fitzgerald stressed that a free and open internet is increasingly becoming a precursor to innovation and economic development. With the Pakistani Government announcing its intention to acquire a URL-filtering system in the near future, Pakistanis need to, according to Fitzgerald, put “onus on the Government to keep the internet open”.
William Fitzgerald is Senior Policy Analyst at Google’s Public Policy and Government Affairs team in Asia Pacific.
The IIS Lecture Series aims at exploring and understanding the interplay of internet and law, and the ways in which cyberspace has come to shape policy-making in Pakistan.