Feeds

Pakistanis revolt over Great Firewall plans

Censorship is illegal, claim activists

Secure remote control for conventional and virtual desktops

Several Pakistanis are taking their government to court in a bid to stop the ‘illegal’ blocking of sites for political purposes and to force the authorities to shelve current plans for a nation wide web filtering system similar to the so-called Great Firewall of China.

Local newspaper The News International reported that the High Court in Sindh province, where Karachi is situated, has issued notices to the Ministry of Information Technology and regulator the Pakistan Telecommunication Authority (PTA) from petitioner Ayesha Tammy Haq and others.

The petition reportedly accuses the government of illegally blocking certain sites and online forums which were critical of its policies without warning the sites' owners first.

It goes on to criticise plans for a proposed Great Firewall of Pakistan and calls on the court to rule that no web content can be blocked without prior notice and that the public should be allowed to comment on any proposed online censorship before such action is taken.

The High Court petition comes as the Pakistani government flip flops over its controversial plans for a nationwide web filtering system.

The PTA had gone as far as publishing a request for proposals for the scheme, a move which forced some tech companies such as Websense to publically distance themselves from the project.

However, Pakistani civil rights group Bolo Bhi was (YouTube video) told by national assembly member Bushra Gohar that she had personally received verbal assurances from IT minister Farooq Awan that the plans had been withdrawn.

No public statement exists, however, and the PTA and Internet Providers Association (ISPAK) confirmed to the Express Tribune that they support such a system.

“A cost effective, automated and transparent system for blocking of blasphemous and objectionable contents is fully supported by PTA,” PTA chairman Muhammad Yaseen said in a statement.

“The current process of blocking, being manual and tedious, is difficult to implement and has its limitations.”

In the face of such conflicting messages, Bolo Bhi and several other groups including Reporters Without Borders and the Electronic Frontier Foundation wrote an open letter to the government earlier this month.

It argued that building a nationwide URL filtering and blocking system would have a grave impact on academia, businesses, trade, and civil society.

As members of civil society and organisations committed to ensuring the government upholds democratic principles in Pakistan, and with concerns about restrictions on privacy as well as access to information, we strongly urge the ICT R&D fund of the Ministry of IT to reconsider its decision to filter URLs in Pakistan and make a public commitment that they will not purchase the URL filtering and blocking technology. If the Pakistani government wants to further develop business, innovation, entrepreneurship, trade, and academia, it must realise the adverse effects this filtering system would have on these priorities, and hence, not go ahead with this plan.

®

Boost IT visibility and business value

More from The Register

next story
'Stop dissing Google or quit': OK, I quit, says Code Club co-founder
And now a message from our sponsors: 'STFU or else'
Ex US cybersecurity czar guilty in child sex abuse website case
Health and Human Services IT security chief headed online to share vile images
Uber, Lyft and cutting corners: The true face of the Sharing Economy
Casual labour and tired ideas = not really web-tastic
Don't even THINK about copyright violation, says Indian state
Pre-emptive arrest for pirates in Karnataka
The police are WRONG: Watching YouTube videos is NOT illegal
And our man Corfield is pretty bloody cross about it
Oz biz regulator discovers shared servers in EPIC FACEPALM
'Not aware' that one IP can hold more than one Website
Apple tried to get a ban on Galaxy, judge said: NO, NO, NO
Judge Koh refuses Samsung ban for the third time
Pedals and wheel in that Google robo-car or it's off the road – Cali DMV
And insists on $5 million insurance per motor against accidents
prev story

Whitepapers

Top 10 endpoint backup mistakes
Avoid the ten endpoint backup mistakes to ensure that your critical corporate data is protected and end user productivity is improved.
Implementing global e-invoicing with guaranteed legal certainty
Explaining the role local tax compliance plays in successful supply chain management and e-business and how leading global brands are addressing this.
Backing up distributed data
Eliminating the redundant use of bandwidth and storage capacity and application consolidation in the modern data center.
The essential guide to IT transformation
ServiceNow discusses three IT transformations that can help CIOs automate IT services to transform IT and the enterprise
Next gen security for virtualised datacentres
Legacy security solutions are inefficient due to the architectural differences between physical and virtual environments.