Locking up cyberspace in Pakistan

Bytesforall says this: The Government of Pakistan has repeatedly exhibited the obsession to lock up the Pakistani cyberspace at every given chance. The reasons for doing so are myriad and diverse, but mostly, they revolve around the same unjustifiable excuses like upholding national security, war on terror and/or religious morality. In order to do these, the government continuously impose and compromise citizen’s fundamental rights including freedom of expression, opinion and access to information hampering all socio-economic activities connected with the Internet. In an under-developed country like Pakistan this becomes the sheer wastage of resources and tax payers’ hard earned money. Unfortunately, there are no legal protections available for citizens or any mechanisms to regulate such actions by the Government & civil society’s engagement for transparency and accountability.

In a recent development, on 23 February 2012, the National ICT R&D Fund has placed an advertisement in the press, calling relevant national and international service providers, companies to submit proposals “for the development, deployment and operation of a national level URL Filtering and Blocking System”.

Little words are required to describe the magnitude of this disastrous move if it gets implemented. Quoting one requirement from the National ICT R&D Fund website, “Each box should be able to handle a block list of up to 50 million URLs (concurrent unidirectional filtering capacity) with processing delay of not more than 1 milliseconds” shows that what kind of capacity Government is planning to acquire for filtering the Internet content in Pakistan. Most interestingly, this filtering will be governed by one very vague terminology that is ‘undesirable content’.

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