It’s Perfectly Alright to Ask for Privacy

Why would I be worried if I am not doing anything wrong?

This is a very common question whenever you raise concerns about privacy. My default response is asking if you’ll be comfortable having a camera + mic in your living room let along with bedroom or even toilet.

I am NOT paranoid when it comes to surveillance, neither should you be concerned about being a lonely voice demanding & questioning it. Times are gone when only important people had to be cautious of surveillance. We’ve seen spy movies where detectives follow them around, noting their movements and then reporting it to their bosses.

Technology has made it efficient and we’ve far more footprints all over the place then in the past. Pretty much every website has a monitor that tracks your behavior and optimizes themselves for you to buy into the problem they’re trying to sell.

Let’s go back 100 years ago, how many records would your tailor have or the store you go for grocery shopping. How many people would they’ve interacted with which involved sharing of personal information?

The only concern we’ve nowadays is while giving away our personal information such as telephone numbers or Email is SPAM. You never thought that you’re giving up information that can be used against you.

We’ve more Identities linked to our telephone number than the social network. Think about it, a personal corporation has far more data on you than the government itself, and that organization is only meant to maximize their profit and serve its stakeholders. Rest assured, you don’t count as a stakeholder. You’re just a product for them, who serve their purpose as they want. 

Once they collect your data, they put it out for the bid. The highest bidder takes the virgin data to maximize their returns & exploit you when you’re most vulnerable. You’re looking for something & kinda desperate, so they prey on your thirst to answer with information that serves themselves. 

Regardless of the outcome of the attack, you are now sold to the second higher bidder who does the same & then it’s repeated till you’re thrown away.

There comes another cycle where a company who bought your data for the first time can’t prey on you anymore, they’ll combine their own research & then resell you. The second company (who plays another vital role) will begin another set of data that’s being formed to prepare you as a better product for a different set of buyers.

Perception is very critical. Why? Since you may not be terrified of getting killed in a road accident, even being involved in one but a single airplane crash, you might deliberately put off your air travel plans for a month or so, though it is the safest mode of travel.

Similarly, privacy isn’t taken seriously & mostly you’re looked down upon when you raise concerns. It’s like a taboo to talk about privacy, though being cool, if you take it seriously & practice or preach it, you’re out of the cool club and into a club that is sometimes considered paranoid or even narcissist or anti-government.

With the emergence of Covid19, we’ve all kinds of tracking apps being installed and all praises for the organizations that are able to limit a patient’s ability to move, but in the long term, I am seriously concerned about repercussions.

Does an institute, either private or government, have the right to limit an individual’s movement based on a decision that they have a vested interest in?

Google/Facebook are household names & they control us directly or indirectly. With their current alliance in tracking our movement is ignored or in few cases appreciated by many, but if they’re given the access, how far can they go?

90% of the people said that they don’t read T&S before signing for any service. Remaining 10% lied. Between those 10 pages, there is a clause I am just attaching samples from a major telecommunication company where they explicitly mention how they’re tracking you.

For the folks, who are lazy to read them, it means they monitor everything you do, from calls to websites to location.

These companies have employees who’re given this access without proper protocols which are often then dumped on the dark web( AKA illegal internet) for cybercriminals to decimate & exploit it as they please.

We live in a very civil world & before you crucify me for saying that, go back a few hundred years ago & see how barbaric the regimes were. We’re protected and our justice system has improved a lot. So the question takes another form, i.e. why isn’t the government doing anything about it & why is this not a major issue?

Like okay, google knows that I want to buy a new car so they can help me in making my decision, but they can’t sell me a car unless I want to. I am sure there are gov agencies keeping a leash on these predators as they do for other crimes.

So the answer is yes, there are & frankly, the government is doing a very good job where they can but the system is very complicated. We live in a fairly decent democracy which doesn’t allow you to change laws on the fly.

While an average American is struggling to pay off his debts, these corporations have an army of lawyers & lobbyists to find gray zones to operate without getting in trouble. There are many cases where you hear about the fines, but as massive they look, it’s just a slap on the wrist which goes directly to the enforcing agency rather than the people who were impacted.

A lot of private organizations have more power than countries. I am sure FB, Google have more liquid cash, let alone (illiquid) assets, than the majority of the countries in the world. You can’t do business if google bans you. 

Paypal, eBay Amazon can literally throw you out of your platform without disclosing a reason & you’ll be done. You can’t take out a loan without providing every information to a 3rd party credit agency which can have very low standards of security. At that point, it’s not a matter of choice or luxury. You’re compromising on your basic human rights if you don’t give in to these 3rd parties. 

At this point, you’re for sale & it isn’t much you can do about it. It’s kind of normal for you. Anyone can go online and find information on you that you may even remember or able to connect. Your information can be fed into a database where different types of algos are run to find your weakest point and then exploit it.

Surveillance compresses creativity and performances. Think about it, if you’re studying or working on your computer or anything. Would you perform well if you know that no one is watching or if there‘s a camera on you?

Fear is incited within yourself that leads to depreciation in our coherent thinking ability. In communities where strict enforcement of surveillance is imposed, innovation rests in peace.

You can’t think beyond survival if you’re in constant fear that someone is watching you. Now we may & we should trust our governments, however, there are limitations to which we draw the line. 

For instance, if you put a soldier with every person, we may be able to reduce the crimes but that’s what dictators do. They turn ordinary citizens into spies where an individual is afraid to trust anyone because you don’t know who’s reporting to whom.

With the increase of our dependency on digital tools, it’s getting much simpler to collect, share & work around our mindsets. One of the misused terms is metadata which aspires to the confidence of anonymity but a false sense of security is worse than no security. This term is abused critically by pretty much everyone. 

“Data is the new oil” is a common term & it points to the fact that oil gives you power. If there isn’t any oil, the world will stop moving. Similarly, we’ve companies that are necessary for us to have a quality life but we’ve no option to opt-out of their surveillance. 

They explicitly mention selling you out but you don’t have an option to opt-out, because their business models would stop working since it does include selling you. You’re the product.

You must have noticed the word “cookies” while browsing websites. Think of it as a tracking device in your shoes that transmits your every move & then auction it to the highest bidder. Bidders can predict your behavior and set up a trap in the way they want.

Election manipulation has been in the news lately so the way they do is very simple. Imagine you care a lot about a specific cause, let’s take an example of gun control that you absolutely want to be banned.

Now if you’re going to vote for Candidate A, Candidate B can get your data & then wherever you go, chase you with ads of candidate A statements against Gun Control. They can also show you how they care about Gun Control & that’s on top of their list. 

This way opinions can be formed & elections can be rigged because everything else is filtered & you’re fed with the information that serves their agenda the best. Every one of us is vulnerable and if that vulnerability is exposed to everyone, that’s dangerous and this is exactly the risk right now.

Now the question comes that should we get rid of everything digital & reduce our footprints & may be living in caves. No that’s not the point. Frankly, it’s not possible regardless of whatever you do. You can reduce it, but then it depends on what’s an acceptable limit. Would you not keep a phone at all, would you not use any social media or would you not keep a credit card?

Maybe living off-grid is an option for many but it doesn’t work for me or probably 99% of you. From hotel booking to renting a car or booking flight etc, you need a credit card. Privacy & isn’t binary. There isn’t a utopia out there for either of these but we can try out best. There are some trade-offs that you can do to achieve the quality of living without compromising your lifestyle.

While big companies may look like an easy target to blame, issues are much bigger than that and are difficult to be solved by a single entity so our best option is to make some modifications to our lifestyle.

It does require some research which may cause inconvenience in the beginning but ultimately it pays off. Luckily, we’ve great alternatives to pretty much a lot of things that we can do.

Here are the alternatives

You can also use add-ons in your current browser to turn on cookie tracking

  • VPN – NordVPN
  • Cellphone:
  • Messenger: Signal

I run but the only reason it exists is that I decided not to be a product so if there’s a better product out there, please comment down below so I could learn about it & add it to the (aforementioned) list

2020-04-30T21:24:41+00:00April 30th, 2020|

Which India did we leave?

I am a Pakistani born Canadian living in USA. Since my birth I was told about the people across the border who’re holding onto your Juglar Vien ( Shahrug ) i.e Kashmir. Growing up perception started to change especially when I moved to Canada to study & interacted with lot of Indians who became my best buddies. I played for an Indian Cricket team, did business & assignments with them too.

This is where the confusion started – If we can live with peace here why did we split up ? From time to time, thought started that what if partition won’t have happened. But I only met Hindus from India so maybe they’re just being nice but if you look from a financial point of view, it made sense. At least we won’t be spending more on weapons than development. Jokes of an unbeatable cricket team compromised of Pakistani Bowlers & Indian Batsmen were common. Indian movies are widely watched & Pakistani singers make Indians dance. Also Muslims got split into 3 countries weakening their strength but numbers don’t dictate the strength. Look at how britishers ruled us.

So then what was that which our forefathers saw & we can’t. Muslims in 1947 were split into pro & anti partition. Muslims which remained pro partition had a strong argument in favor of two-nation theory while the Muslims against had their own side of story. It was a painful partition but here we’re now but what was the India then ? I thought that what

One doesn’t have to put a flag in his chest or prove he is Indian. People who were against partition were the folks who believe they want to live in secular India and to be honest, I would’ve bought that too, but the current situation says other ways. There’s a difference being a minority because of religion. My Prime Minister Justin Trudeau said “ A Canadian is a Canadian is a Canadian “ when his opponent Harper was pushing for two tier citizenship where one person citizenship can be revoked if he has committed act of terrorism against the country but this rule won’t apply if you’re only Canadian or like 2nd 3rd generation Canadian. While it was a popular motto for the majority that why would a foreigner who just became Canadian and go against the country should be allowed to stay Canadian, but the difficult stance that once a person is Canadian he isn’t distinguished based on anything and every citizen is equal. Trudeau Canadian won defeating the hate mongering Harper. 

There’s no if-buts-then. Either India is a safe place or every one or for every one excluding one faith

We’ve fake news today so information around what actually happened 70 years ago becomes even more confusing. As an Indian comedian said to a Pakistani “ In your books, you won 65, in our books we won. Tum bhi Khush Hum bhi khush “ . To be honest hearing stories are confusing. On one hand scars from the survivors of 1947 massacre leave you stunned that how can these two do this to each other but on the other hand, friendships & desire to reunite from the elders warm your heart. 

When Faiz poem “ Hum daikhain gay” is sang in India or Ram Prasad Bismil acclaimed “ Sarfaroshi Key Tamana “ in Lahore, question  become even more confused 

Which India did we leave ? The one that shunned the basic human rights based on their faith or the one that stood up against the discrimination based on faith. 

Minorities in Pakistan are on the rise but we’re way far from where we should’ve been. Even worse incidents have made the headlines where a Muslim was tied by ropes and beaten to death for not saying “Jai Shri ram”. Its equivalent to ISIS pushing a non-muslim to say “Allah O Akbar”. 

Anytime I met Muslims from India, they generally make sure that I know that they’re happy in India and partition was a mistake, but then a quote comes in my mind by architect of Pakistan.

“Muslims who’re opposing Pakistan would have to prove their patriotism to India for the rest of their lives – MA Jinnah 1945”

Does a Muslim have to carry Indian flag while Hindu can get away with a Saffron Flag because religion comes before nationalism. Would a Muslim carrying ISIS flag can get a pass by displaying a religious extemist terrorist organization ?

I’ve always admired India for their multiculturalism. Yes there are incidents here & there but I won’t expect anything else from a country with such a massive population with limited resources. Shining India was very appealing for folks across the border who in their heart said why are we not part of it? While India hosts the world #1 cricket league which is preferred by any cricket player, we’re literally requesting ANYONE to visit us. 

Current protests & its impact on the gov to overturn their decision to exclude a community based on their faith is a litmus test for confused folks like me. Since the situation is pretty mercurial at least I’ll get the answer to which India did we leave!


2020-04-30T21:19:02+00:00December 22nd, 2019|

One line that changes your approach

In old times Kings had strange requests and they had advisors whose jobs was to fulfill them. Failure to do so results in punishments that varied from imprisonment, demotion or in severe case even death penalties. (more…)

2018-12-08T17:20:20+00:00March 29th, 2016|

Important vs Urgent – Who takes the lead ?

Time is the most limited commodity that any successful person have & time management is one of the most sought after skill for majority of us. Urgent & Important are the two major parameters used in prioritizing where to focus our resources on.

Eisenhower matrix is ever-green cheat sheet for any one looking to help prioritize their day. Biggest issue we struggle with is “urgent” taking priority over “important”.

Eisen Hower Matrix

If you give some one two tasks with following
– Task A is urgent
– Task B is important

99% of the times, they will go with the urgent one. There could be multiple reasons for this behaviors, but following two are the most common one.

– Urgency creates emergency giving you the adrenaline rush for the day
– It is easy to get motivated while accomplishing a task that is time driven because it could be quantified

The most urgent decisions are rarely the most important ones.
– Dwight D Eisenhower

However, while focusing on urgent task, we oversee important tasks requiring our attention. It could be a business goal as well as personal goal. Such as joining a gym, going on a vacation, spending time with your family, calling an old friend or be by yourself. Even in business, we mightn’t have updated our website or done a SWOT analysis or the most important one – sitting down with the team over dinner.

So next time, there is a choice between Urgency or importance, chose wisely!

2016-03-21T16:13:11+00:00March 21st, 2016|

Privacy == Liberty

I recently had an honor to meet Mike Janke ( Co-founder & Chairman Silent Circle – Encrypted Communication Firm), which prompted me to write over this issue.

Mike Janke - Silent Circle

Mike’s some one who I admire a lot & I am baffled by the fact that he’s recognized as much as he deserves it. He came to me as some one who’se really passionate about the cause & value & I feel myself lucky to be present in same room as him. He’s a hero !

From Wikileaks to recent open letter by Apple in response to request for a backdoor in iOS , there are arguments on both sides on privacy and surveillance acceptability. While there is no denial that better information leads to better decision making which will be helpful for the agencies to protect us, however it might violate the citizen rights which includes privacy. There is a reason why we have private house rather than sharing a big house. While I live in an apartment and like people around me, most of the people have economic reasons to live in shared housing.

People in favor of allowing security agencies to access personal data are making a very strong argument that if there is nothing wrong, why do I need to hide? As popular as it looks like, this is not as simple as it looks like.

Many people have camera or stage phobia. As perfect they are in their job, when asked to perform the same job in front of people, they get nervous or are unable to reproduce the same results as they would individually. This is not because they are bad at what they do, it’s because of the external pressure that they have to be extra cautious. Now take the same example and apply it on your daily life.

Imagine a person watching everything that you do; Every word you spoke and every action you did is recorded in an archive which is saved for decades and is accessible by a person unknown to you. How would you feel about it?

Not taking it to an extreme where you are also observed while you are singing in your bath tub, but imagine being watched in your living room. While there is nothing wrong about watching a hockey game with your friends at your home, but would you be able to enjoy it with a camera over you? Taking example of house might turn off a lot of people, even recording the conversations at a dinner-date is totally awkward as well. Next time when you are having a conversation over a phone, imagine an unknown 3rd party listening to it or even worse recording it.

Here is Obama portions from SXSW’16 on encryption

Cell phones, laptops are very personal now and we spend most time with them than any other living or non-living object. It’s no longer the phone that the entire house shared to communicate, but it’s like a private diary.They possibly have the most amount of data or attachment than anything else and allowing it to be watched all the time makes me uncomfortable. Law enforcement is a difficult job and I am thankful to all the wonderful people who are working day and night to ensure our safety but liberty is what allows us to enjoy it the fullest. There should be no absolute stance from either parties & I hope there would be a good balance between liberty and security as we transform into a more progressive society.

I wish the world have more people like Mike who’re taking this challange & one day I am able to contribute to the cause. Though I am deeply involved with cryptographic items, my engineering major is telecommunication so you never know & if that happens, I hope to replicate the lessons I learnt from Mike

2019-11-23T21:11:34+00:00March 15th, 2016|

Weaker Loonie against USD – Who’s getting hammered here ?

From Acuras to iPhone applications, suits to sweet potatoes, Canadians will be paying more for imported products, on account of the loonie’s fall against the U.S. dollar. It has dropped by almost 10% in last 12 months which is a significant drop in a short horizon of time. Although it’s not the highest one, but certainly rank among them.

Weaker Loonie

“Who wins and who loses when the loonie gets hammered”

Obviously it’s the end customer who will be paying more. Increasing costs are passed on the end customers and if they are earning in CAD, too bad. It’s now happening . Food costs have been expanding for quite a long time. Attire, while regularly made abroad, has a tendency to be evaluated in U.S. dollars and has additionally been getting more costly. So too a first-class thing that Canadians are purchasing in record numbers. Automakers have begun to raise sticker costs on Canadian vehicles.

The Automobile Protection Association says Toyota and Honda, among others, brought costs up in the primary week of January. A few extravagance brands, including Lexus, Acura, and BMW have additionally rolled out improvements to their valuing, with Audi purportedly set to follow in mid-January, the affiliation says. The APA says the greater part of the expansions are unassuming, an additional couple of hundred dollars for every vehicle. Be that as it may, it says Honda has raised the proposed retail cost on its 2015 CRV Touring, all-wheel-drive model by an amount of $750.”Auto organizations will take each open door that they can to expand exchange costs or minimize their introduction to the conversion scale,” says Jason Stein, distributer and supervisor of Automotive News.”We do see costs expanding. We’ve seen costs expanding crosswise over North America. Will they build a smidgen all the more quickly north of the fringe, because of the conversion standard? I believe that is presumably the case.”

It doesn’t cut both ways. Stein, a Canadian who lives in Windsor, and goes for work in Detroit, echoes a portion of the disappointment of some Canadians, who feel automakers were much slower to drop costs in this nation when the Canadian dollar was high. “Interestingly, when the Canadian dollar was over the U.S. dollar, a year, 18 months prior, you didn’t see costs dropping.” Loonie oil costs could fall much even further, Don Pittis said.

A week ago, Apple brought costs up in its Canadian App Store. The 99-penny applications will now cost $1.19 Canadian, a 20 for every penny increment. Different applications under $10 went up by around 15 for every penny. Apple says the expansion is connected to the conversion scale. Different countries feel it as well

However, it’s not every terrible new. The loonie isn’t the main cash falling against the greenback. “This is not imagination of a powerless Canadian dollar story. Some of it is a solid U.S. dollar story,” says BMO’s Porter. “The U.S. dollar is inclining against a considerable measure of monetary standards. So a few things we won’t not be paying significantly more for. For example, a few things from Europe or from Japan, won’t not be going up that much in cost in light of the fact that their monetary forms are additionally debilitating.”

In any case, with the U.S. representing about portion of all Canadian stock imports, the dollar’s doldrums will hit most Canadian shoppers in the wallet.

2016-03-09T16:47:55+00:00March 5th, 2016|

What is your management style ?

Someone asked me a question about my management style. Let me give a disclose that I have not been very good at it and this is the most difficult task that a founder has to encounter.

Management Style

While I am not pro at it, I thought of asking this question from myself for days and came up with following

Ideal management style is a style in which people don’t have to be managed

Now it goes more about the culture where everyone can think themselves accountable. I am lucky to attend lecture by Brad Hams and the way he explained the subject was great.While I recommend his book a lot, I would rephrase his book title as following

Create a culture of accountability, purpose & profitability & eliminate the entitlement feeling.


Any one who can master this won’t have to adapt to any culture.


Management Style

2016-03-06T15:46:33+00:00November 5th, 2015|

Millennial – Generation of two decades

Everyday, we come across the term “Millenials” or “Generation Y”. Companies/Startups are overusing this term to define their customer base. From just the sound of  it, image    portrayed in mind of a Millenial is a teenager who is snap chatting on his new iPhone with music played on his flashy expensive branded headphones.

However, it’s not quite right.

Kid Snapchatting

Any person born between 1980 – 2000 counts towards Millennial. As of today, it’s the generation aged between 15-35. That’s a difference of two decades.


I am personally unable to identify anything that is equally appealing to people between 15-35. This  is the most exciting age bracket &  statistics show that people have already experienced 70% of their AHA moments before the age of 35. Once you cross 35, it gets difficult to change your personality, habits or behaviours.This is the reason why it is lucrative to attract this age bracket while one is learning new things and adapting to new habits.Few of the interesting characteristics are

  • Early adopters – They are OK with being the guinea pig
  • Social – They share their lives publically and not much of a private person
  • Adventure – They take more risk and are not in rush to settle down  
  • Informed – They are probably the most informed generation based on the content they consume

These all characteristics make them ideal customers for a new product that might or might not work, however, remember, they range from a high school kid to a mid-level manager, so it’s a broad market size. In US alone, there are expected to be 80 million millennials. If brands are able to capture their minds before 35, chances of upselling them for rest of their life becomes bright.

Millennial generation


I am part of Millennial & you?

2016-03-06T15:46:54+00:00October 27th, 2015|

How to make quick pivotal decisions


We have to make trivial decisions on regular basis. Some of those decisions create a deadlock which have impact on other things we do. Everyone advises to go with the instincts and gut feeling but the solutions are so close that it becomes challenging to figure out what do we actually want. As human nature, we like to delay it as much as possible as long as it doesn’t impact the outcome.

When I am in such situation, I use tossing the coin technique. I take out the coin without looking at which side it is tossed with and the moment it’s in the air, I know what I want. I take back the coin without looking at result since I have discovered what decision I am more inclined towards. 

Coin flip decision

Whenever confused between two options, just toss the coin in the air & the moment it’s in the air, you know what do want to do

As soon as the coin gets in the air, it activates the time machine that forces you to figure out your top priorities and based on that, you quickly analyze which option would serve those priorities better. There is absolutely no guarantee that the selection would be right however it will tell you what you want

2016-03-06T15:47:17+00:00October 19th, 2015|

What advice would I give to myself 10 years ago ?

Life is the name of continual motion. My counter is constantly running and I have no control over it. In fact, none of the billions of people walking this earth right now, have any control over this counter. It keeps running and running until one day when it will abruptly stop. That day, life as I know it, will cease to exist.

I enjoy the great outdoors and feel blessed to be living in Ottawa, one of the most beautiful cities I have ever come across. It has natural sanctuaries to help re-build our lost connection with nature. I often longingly gaze at the river and think about how so many people before me have come and gone, yet the river remains. It is majestic and grand and runs free through the city, as it has for many generations.

Like the river, I often wish to run free, free of any socially constructed financially motivated boundaries to really change the world. Millions amongst us wish to leave a deep, meaningful impact on the world, I too wish to give back what the universe has awarded me with.

Next year will mark the end of the third decade of my life. Three decades have passed in a flash. Imagine if I knew as a teen, what I know now. How would the course of my life be different? How would I have a greater impact on this world, on my world?

Live in the moment

Looking back I feel like one of my biggest mistake has been my inability to be completely in the moment. I have either tried to live in the past or with dreams of a brighter, bigger future, whilst ignoring my current, my present, my now. I have missed many moments in life trying to come to terms with the fact that I can’t be everywhere at the same time, I need to be where I am completely in order to live in the moment.

It’s like trying to make a video of the fireworks in front of you. Why not put the phone away for a few minutes, and live in the moment, let the eyes see the world without the filter of your phone in front. Remember, the fireworks won’t last long, but the memories will last decades. No matter how great your camera is, it is not better than your eyes and cannot remember moments with their feelings, like the mind can. So Next time you are watching the fireworks, live in the moment and create memories.


Life is a counter. At this very moment, you are the youngest you will ever be, so live this unique moment and create memories, not videos.


P.S. Nobody likes to watch a video of last year’s fireworks that you made on your phone =)

What advice would you give to yourself 10 years ago?

2016-03-06T15:48:28+00:00October 15th, 2015|