Melon Farmers Original Version

Internet Censorship in Pakistan

internet website blocking


Blasphemy against US free speech...

Pakistan is demanding that a supposedly blasphemous US website be shut down

Link Here 19th January 2021
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Pakistan is threatening to prosecute non-Pakistanis in foreign countries for breaking its blasphemy laws online.

The decision seems to be focused on Ahmadis, an Islamic offshoot whose beliefs are considered blasphemous in Pakistan. The Pakistan Telecommunications Authority (PTA) sent a legal notice to the Ahmadiyya Muslim Community USA demanding that it shuts down its website,, or get charged with blasphemy, a crime that carries a ten-year prison sentence.

The website is run by a US-based organization. So the legal notice is the government's way of saying that the Pakistan Blasphemy Laws can apply to non-Pakistanis and beyond the Pakistan territory.

On January 14, the US House Foreign Affairs Committee tweeted that it was very concerning to see Pakistan using attempts to apply its controversial cybercrime laws to repress Americans' freedoms of speech and worship well outside of Pakistan's own borders.

It is unlikely that the US will allow any such interference in US free speech but it Pakistan could arrest offending AMericans  if they travel to Pakistan or any other country friendly with Pakistan. And of course relatives of offending Americans who live in Pakistan could be persecuted.



Online Harms in Pakistan...

Just like Ofcom, Pakistan's internet censor is being giving infinite powers to censor internet content

Link Here 21st December 2020
Full story: Internet Censorship in Pakistan...internet website blocking
Reporters Without Borders (RSF) has analysed the provisions of a new set of online content regulations that the Pakistani government decreed without any consultation with stakeholders, and which are clearly designed to impose draconian online censorship.

Published last month by the information ministry and entitled Removal and Blocking of Unlawful Online Content (Procedure, Oversight and Safeguards), Rules 2020 , the new regulations replace an earlier set of rules that were suspended in February because of a civil society outcry .They have ended up going much further, granting disproportionate and discretionary powers to the Pakistan Telecommunication Authority (PTA), the online content regulator, which is a direct government offshoot.

On national security grounds, the rules provide for the withdrawal or blocking of any content that excites or attempts to excite disaffection towards the federal or provincial government or harms the reputation of any person holding public office.  It is equally concerning that the rules also provide for the censorship of any content regarded as indecent, immoral or harmful to the glory of Islam , without giving any precise definition of these extremely vague concepts. The interpretation is left to the PTA, which thereby acquires arbitrary and almost infinite powers.

The rules also empower the PTA to act as both plaintiff and judge. It is the PTA that decides, without reference to a court , whether content violates the criminal code and, worse still, it is the PTA that reexamines cases in the event of a challenge, and rules on any appeals.

Platforms are also legally obliged to hand over user data when asked, including data from private and encrypted communications. And platforms with more than 500,000 users are required to open an office in Pakistan, install servers there and register with the authorities.




US social media companies threaten to leave Pakistan over a repressive new internet censorship law

Link Here20th November 2020
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US internet companies Facebook, Google and Twitter and others have banded together and threatened to leave Pakistan after the country granted blanket censorship powers to censor content the government doesn't like.

Earlier this week, Pakistan Prime Minister Imran Khan granted the Pakistan Telecommunication Authority the power to remove and block digital content that pose harms, intimidates or excites disaffection toward the government or in other ways hurt the integrity, security, and defence of Pakistan.

Through a group called the Asia Internet Coalition Asia (AIC), the tech firms said that they were alarmed by the scope of Pakistan's new law. In addition to Facebook, Google, and Twitter, AIC represents Apple, Amazon, LinkedIn, SAP, Expedia Group, Yahoo, Airbnb, Grab, Rakuten,, Line, and Cloudflare.

The draconian data localization requirements will damage the ability of people to access a free and open internet and shut Pakistan's digital economy off from the rest of the world.

Under the new law, tech companies that fail to remove or block the unlawful content from their platforms within 24 hours of notice from Pakistan authorities also face a fine of up to $3.14 million.



An Imran Khan beamer is hit for six...

US internet giants threaten total boycott of Pakistan over its extreme internet censorship law just enacted

Link Here 5th May 2020
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Earlier this month, the government of Pakistan enacted some of the most authoritarian and restrictive online censorship laws outside Communist China. The laws seems to be based on European and UK laws to hold the internet companies responsible for whatever users post.

Although the likes of Google and Facebook usually bow down to local law, this new law was a step too far. Google, Twitter, and Facebook have surprised many by taking a stand against the Pakistani government's censorship plans and threatening to pull out of the country if the plans aren't changed. And remarkably, it seems to be working.

Pakistan's new law is misleadingly titled the Citizen Protection (Against Online Harm) Rules 2020. It gives the country's censors the power to shut down a huge range of online content. It would require tech companies to remove this content within 24 hours of it being posted.

Tech companies would also be duty-bound to stop post of various types of content from becoming accessible to Pakistani users in real-time and appears to make them responsible for the content of posts put up by users.

Tech companies would also be required to store user data on local servers and open headquarters in the Pakistani capital Islamabad.

The main internet companies have now got together under the banner of the Asia Internet Coalition and have written a frank and critical letter to  Prime Minister, Imran Khan. It explains that if the law isn't changed all the companies will withdraw from the Pakistani market altogether.

In response Pakistani officials have duly committed to review the regulations this week and have said they will now conduct a comprehensive and broad consultation process with all relevant segments of civil society and technology companies.

Perhaps the cooperative stand taken by the internet giants may be something for the UK to consider in its own plans for a repressive new 'online harms censorship law. It would seem entirely reasonable for the companies to take a stand against being held responsible for all the world's ills.



Harming the internet...

Pakistan's cabinet approves local version of Online Harms Bill

Link Here 15th February 2020
Full story: Internet Censorship in Pakistan...internet website blocking
The Pakistan government should immediately roll back a set of social media censorship measures that were passed in secret, the Committee to Protect Journalists has said..

On January 28, the federal cabinet approved the Citizens Protection (Against Online Harm) Rules, 2020, a set of regulations on social media content, without public consultation; the measures were enacted in secret.

A copy of the regulations, which was leaked online, shows that the rules empower the government to fine or ban social media platforms over their users' content. The regulations provide for a National Coordinator to be appointed within the Ministry of Information and Telecommunications responsible for enforcing the rules.

Steven Butler, CPJ's Asia program coordinator, said:

These stringent but vague rules approved by Pakistan's federal cabinet threaten the ability of journalists to report the news and communicate with their sources. The cabinet should immediately reverse course and seek broad consultations with legislators and civil society, including the media, on how to proceed with any such regulations.

Social media companies are required to remove content deemed objectionable by the National Coordinator within 24 hours, and to provide to the regulator decrypted content and any other information about users on demand. The companies are also made responsible for preventing the live streaming of any content related to terrorism, extremism, hate speech, defamation, fake news, incitement to violence and national security.

If a service is does not comply, the National Coordinator is granted the power to block services and levy fines of up to 500 million rupees ($3.24 million).




Pakistan's internet censors calls on the government to ban foreign social media and replace it with locally based versions

Link Here27th July 2019
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The chairman of the Pakistan Telecommunications Authority (PTA) Amir Azeem Bajwa has called on the government to block social media websites in the country in consideration to the circulation of blasphemous content through these mediums.

Briefing a Senate Standing Committee, Bajwa asked the government to formulate a policy to block social media networks which are being operated outside the country, and in its stead develop indigenous social networking websites, just as in the UAE and China.

Bajwa said that the PTA has blocked more than 39,000 URLs since 2010, and blocked as many as 8,000 websites related to pornography. In addition, the PTA has received over 8,000 complaints regarding blasphemous content on the internet.



Offsite Article: Blocking encrypted messaging and VPNs...

Link Here 8th June 2019
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Pakistan buys in a new censorship and snooping system for the internet

See article from



Pakistan leads the way while the UK will soon follow...

Pakistan's internet censor blocks 400,000 porn sites and 10,000 proxy sites

Link Here3rd April 2018
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The Pakistan Telecommunication Authority (PTA) has blocked around 0.4 million porn websites and 9,846 proxy sites as well.

The figures were revealed when Additional Attorney General Nayyar Rizvi reported to the Supreme Court (SC).

His report also revealed that PTA has blocked several illegal satellite programming and content relayed by local cable operators.



Doubly illegal...

Pakistan is set to extend its cyber crime laws to prohibit blasphemy and porn

Link Here27th December 2017
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Pakistan's federal cabinet has approved an amendment to the Prevention of Electronic Crimes Act (Peca), 2016, aimed at bringing blasphemy and pornography within the ambit of the cybercrime law.

The issue of offences relating to blasphemy was recently taken up by the Islamabad High Court during the hearing of a petition filed against alleged uploading of supposedly objectionable material on social media.

Additional Attorney General Afnan Karim Kundi had last week informed the court that the federal government was amending Peca to include blasphemy and pornography as scheduled offences in the cybercrime law.



Update: Censorship via blasphemy...

Pakistan is getting heavy with internet giants who refuse to censor content that Pakistan does not like

Link Here 17th March 2017
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Pakistani has threatened to ban social media networks if they failed to censor content considered insulting to Islam. The government's Fderal Investigation Agency (FIA) is also in talks with Interpol to identify supposedly blasphemous content.

The FIA has sent a formal request to Facebook but the company's management has yet to respond. Pakistan's interior Minister Nisar Ali Khan urged Facebook to comply:

I hope that the management of Facebook will respect the religious sentiments of 200 million Pakistanis and tens of millions of users of Facebook in Pakistan and will cooperate in that regard.

These requests come after the Islamabad high court ordered the government to start an investigation into online blasphemy and threatened to ban social media networks if they failed to censor content deemed insulting to Islam, lawyers told AFP.



Update: Miserable Philippines...

Philippines blocks Porhub after report shows its popularity in the country

Link Here 18th January 2017
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Popular pornography websites XVideos, Redtube and Pornhub have been blocked by two ISPs in the Philippines.

Customers of Smart and Sun Cellular have already been blocked and others are set to follow.

The Philippines government has not given any official explanation of why the sites have suddenly been blocked. However, the country's National Telecommunications Commission confirmed to CNN that it had ordered all the nation's ISPs to block access from 14 January,

The censorship seems to have been triggered by a report from Pornhub suggesting that their customers in the Philippines spent the longest average time on its site, (12 minutes and 45 seconds, about three minutes longer than the global average).



Update: Another law claiming worldwide reach...

The Global Ambitions of Pakistan's New Cyber-Crime Act

Link Here 21st August 2016
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Despite near universal condemnation from Pakistan's tech experts; despite the efforts of a determined coalition of activists, and despite numerous attempts by alarmed politicians to patch its many flaws, Pakistan's Prevention of Electronic Crimes Bill (PECB) last week passed into law. Its passage ends an eighteen month long battle between Pakistan's government, who saw the bill as a flagship element of their anti-terrorism agenda, and the technologists and civil liberties groups who slammed the bill as an incoherent mix of anti-speech, anti-privacy and anti-Internet provisions.

But the PECB isn't just a tragedy for free expression and privacy within Pakistan. Its broad reach has wider consequences for Pakistan nationals abroad, and international criminal law as it applies to the Net.

The new law creates broad crimes related to cyber-terrorism and its glorification online. It gives the authorities the opportunity to threaten, target and censor unpopular online speech in ways that go far beyond international standards or Pakistan's own free speech protections for offline media. Personal digital data will be collected and made available to the authorities without a warrant: the products of these data retention programs can then be handed to foreign powers without oversight.

PECB is generous to foreign intelligence agencies. It is far less tolerant of other foreigners, or of Pakistani nationals living abroad. Technologists and online speakers outside Pakistan should pay attention to the first clause of the new law :

  1. This Act may be called the Prevention of Electronic Crimes Act, 2016.

  2. It extends to the whole of Pakistan.

  3. It shall apply to every citizen of Pakistan wherever he may be and also to every other person for the time being in Pakistan.

  4. It shall also apply to any act committed outside Pakistan by any person if the act constitutes an offence under this Act and affects a person, property, information system or data location in Pakistan.

Poorly-written cyber-crime laws criminalize these everyday and innocent actions by technology users, and the PECB is no exception. It criminalizes the violation of terms of service in some cases, and ramps up the penalties for many actions that would be seen as harmless or positive acts in the non-digital world, including unauthorized copying and access. Security researchers and consumers frequently conduct unauthorized acts of access and copying for legitimate and lawful reasons. They do it to exercise of their right of fair use, to exposing wrongdoing in government, or to protect the safety and privacy of the public. Violating website terms of service may be a violation of your agreement with that site, but no nation should turn those violations into felonies.

The PECB asserts an international jurisdiction for these new crimes. It says that if you are a Pakistan national abroad (over 8.5 million people, or 4% of Pakistan's total population) you too can be prosecuted for violating its vague statutes. And if a Pakistan court determines that you have violated one of the prohibitions listed in the PECB in such a way that it affects any Pakistani national, you can find yourself prosecuted in the Pakistan courts, no matter where you live.

Pakistan isn't alone in making such broad claims of jurisdiction. Some countries claim the power to prosecute a narrow set of serious crimes committed against their citizens abroad under international law's passive personality principle (the U.S. does so in some of its anti-terrorism laws). Other countries claim jurisdiction over the actions of its own nationals abroad under the active personality principle (for instance, in cases of treason.)

But Pakistan's cyber-crime law asserts both principles simultaneously, and explicitly applies them to all cyber-crime, both major and minor, defined in PECB. That includes creating a sense of insecurity in the [Pakistani] government (Ch.2, 10), offering services to change a computer's MAC address (Ch.2, 16), or building tools that let you listen to licensed radio spectrum (Ch.2, 13 and 17).

The universal application of such arbitrary laws could have practical consequences for the thousands of overseas Pakistanis working in the IT and infosecurity industries, as well for those in the Pakistan diaspora who wish to publicly critique Pakistani policies. It also continues the global jurisdictional trainwreck that surrounds digital issues, where every country demands that its laws apply and must be enforced across a borderless Internet.

Applying what has been described as the worst piece of cyber-crime legislation in the world to the world is a bold ambition, and the current Pakistani government's reach may well have exceeded its grasp, both under international law and its own constitutional limits. The broad coalition who fought PECB in the legislature will now seek to challenge it in the courts.

But until they win, Pakistan has overlaid yet another layer of vague and incompatible crimes over the Internet, and its own far-flung citizenry.



Miserable Pakistan...

Pakistan demands that ISPs block 400,000 porn websites

Link Here 27th January 2016
Full story: Internet Censorship in Pakistan...internet website blocking
Pakistani ISP are getting ready to write a lot of firewall censorship rules, with the country's telecommunications censor issuing a list of 429,343 banned porn Websites.

According to newspaper The Express Tribune , ISPs will be expected to implement the blocks at the domain level . The outlet explains that the regulatory order followed instructions from the Supreme Court that it take remedial steps to quantify the nefarious phenomenon of obscenity and pornography that has an imminent role to corrupt and vitiate the youth of Pakistan .

ISPs aren't impressed, complaining that they'll need both time and equipment to implement such a large block-list.



Update: Blogs Censored...

Pakistan blocks the WordPress, the largest blocking platform in the world

Link Here23rd March 2015
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The largest blogging platform of the world,, has been banned in Pakistan which a tech blog says has been done on orders of Pakistan Telecommunication Authority (PTA).

According to the ProPakistani blog, who claims to have been confirmed by an anonymous source within PTA, reports that has been blocked due to references to the Pakistan Day. The exact nature of threat on that triggered the blocking is unreported.

The blog also reports the ban might be lifted in next two days

PTA has a history of blocking websites without giving any prior notice or reason of doing so.



Update: Everything!...

Pakistan's government works on an internet policy to ban everything

Link Here5th September 2014
Full story: Internet Censorship in Pakistan...internet website blocking
Pakistan's government is formulating a policy for online media, incorporating all restrictive provisions of the recently approved National Broadcast Policy.

Like the broadcast policy, the draft online policy seeks a ban or more or less everything. In particular:

Publishing inconsistent and misleading information and data. No information and data can be published or broadcast demeaning the armed forces, law enforcement agencies and government officials who can sentence people for criminal offences.

The online media cannot publish information and data that may spark separatism and unrest or create hatred among people of different castes, creeds and religions, or may satirise national ideals, undermine people and harm the unity and solidarity of the country, intrude on privacy, impede state security and hurt religious values and non-communal spirit.

The draft seeks a ban on publishing anything indecent that might affect children's psyche or something that might encourage harassment and violence against women and children.

The online media is not allowed to publish photographs and footage of murders and dead bodies that hurt human feelings. Besides, there will be a ban on publishing abusive and terrorising photographs and videos of local and foreign films which militate against the culture of the country, according to the draft.

The conditions and restrictions relating to advertisements in the draft online policy are also similar to those of the broadcast policy:

It puts restrictions on online publication of any information or advertisements that might hamper friendly relations with foreign countries or may cause conflict with a friendly state.

Moreover, the online media will not be allowed to publish any advertisements, containing language and scenes that may hurt political and religious sentiment. No photographs or video footage of mosques, temples and churches can be used in advertisements for commercial purposes.

At present, anyone can launch a website and put information, photographs, video or audio clips there. Many government officials, especially deputy commissioners (DCs), have been pressing for a policy to impose restrictions on such online media workings.



Update: Retweeted...

Twitter ends censorship of content in Pakistan after the authorities fail to provide justification for its censorship requests

Link Here18th June 2014
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Twitter has restored access inside Pakistan to dozens of tweets and accounts, after blocking them last month following official complaints about suuposed blasphemous content.

Twitter said it had changed its May 18 decision after the government failed to provide sufficient clarification. The company said in a statement:

On May 18, 2014, we made an initial decision to withhold content in Pakistan based on information provided to us by the Pakistan Telecommunication Authority.

We have re-examined the requests and, in the absence of additional clarifying information from Pakistani authorities, have determined that restoration of the previously withheld content is warranted. The content is now available again in Pakistan.

Most of the offending material concerned anti-Islam accounts, but the accounts of three US porn stars were also listed.



Updated: Seeing Red...

Facebook censors popular Pakistani rock bands page at the request of the country's government

Link Here15th June 2014
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Facebook has censored the popular page of a liberal Pakistani rock band and others that criticise the Taliban at the request of the government, angering activists campaigning against censorship in the Islamic country.

Rock band Laal (Red) formed in 2007 and are known for their progressive politics. Their Facebook page has more than 400,000 likes, with users frequently joining debates on issues ranging from feminism to the role of the country's army in politics. But it is now censored to users from inside Pakistan.

Other pages like Taalibansarezalimans (The Taliban are oppressors) and Pakistani.meem which describes itself as pro-democracy and secularism, have similarly been blocked in recent days.

A Facebook spokeswoman said: While we never remove this type of content from the site entirely, like most Internet services, we may restrict people from accessing it in the countries where it is determined to be illegal. Facebook have unhelpfully initiated the block in such a way that users are not made aware of the censorship, requests for the banned page are simply redirected to the requestor's own profile page.

Update: Unbanned

15th June 2014.  See  article from

Laal's Facebook page was made accessible in the country after just two days. Good news? Yes, but not as much as you think. Remember that Laal has a pretty strong fan base and an equally strong support system with reach extending to lawyers, advocacy groups, local and international media.

Other banned page owners who have been blocked cannot fight back in a similar way. Are these people left with any options after they're blocked? and Talibaans Are Zaalimaans are only two of the many other pages that remained blocked.

The unblocking of Laal may look like a win, but if you step back and assess the bigger picture, it only reveals the extent to which the government can censor with impunity.

The spontaneous unblocking was clearly a ploy to stop us from creating more outrage -- the unblocking of Laal was a minor battle won in a war we are losing.



Update: Bad Talk...

Pakistan province bans Skype, Whatsapp and Viber

Link Here4th October 2013
Full story: Internet Censorship in Pakistan...internet website blocking
Authorities in Pakistan's southern Sindh province have banned Skype , Whatsapp and Viber in the name of security, triggering angry reactions from numerous users of the instant messaging applications.

The decision to enforce the ban for three months was made at a meeting chaired by Sindh Chief Minister Qaim Ali Shah. Provincial Information Minister Sharjeel Memon announced said:

Terrorists and criminal elements are using these networks to communicate after the targeted operation was launched (against them).

Sindh's Home Secretary will contact the Pakistan Telecommunication Authority to have these applications banned in the province. According to Memon, the Sindh government would contact the federal government to ensure that illegal SIMs too are shut down.



Update: Can't Live With It, Can't Live Without It...

Pakistan's internet censors come to blows over the continued blocking of YouTube

Link Here 23rd July 2013
Full story: Internet Censorship in Pakistan...internet website blocking

A meeting to discuss supposedly blasphemous material and the ban on YouTube turned into an exchange of abuse as the Pakistan Telecom Authority lobbed the issue in the court of parliament, asking legislators to pass a new law and create a new set-up to decide what is blasphemous.

After witnessing nasty scenes in the official meeting, the PTA proposed to the government to enact new laws through parliament for establishing an independent department having the mandate as well as the authority to block access of such links on the internet.

The PTA feel pressure from all sides as the Government pushes for an end to the ban even though supposed blasphemy continues to be available. They clearly do not like being asked to make the decisions about the impasse and would rather someone else did it. Official sources explained:

No one is ready to take responsibility for opening up of YouTube as the PTA is just executing the orders of the Inter-Ministerial Committee and orders of other top officials. We have proposed to the government to table a bill in parliament and establish an independent forum having the authority to define the blasphemy material and then impose ban on it.

There is nothing in the PTA act authorising a ban on YouTube and it has been done so far on the directives of the inter-ministerial committee or the court orders. Without introducing a dedicated censor, the issue of blasphemous material on the internet cannot be resolved, they added.

Official sources who attended the meeting told The News that representatives of an NGO, Bytes for All, accused the top officials of the PTA in the presence of several stakeholders saying you are a liar and threatened to fix them. I have never seen such a disgusting attitude during an official meeting in my whole life, a participant of the meeting said.

Update: Referred to the Lahore High Court

26th September 2013.  See  article from

The year-long saga of the Pakistan government's YouTube ban has just taken another twist, as a case to unblock the website has been referred to a panel of Lahore High Court justices who will now decide whether the country's haphazard internet censorship regime is unconstitutional. It's another reprieve for the government's IT minister Anusha Rehman , who has overseen an increasingly oppressive online censorship regime in Pakistan.



Update: Searching for New Threats...

Pakistan's new internet censorship minister threatens to block Google search unless supposedly blasphemous YouTube videos are blocked

Link Here 10th June 2013
Full story: Internet Censorship in Pakistan...internet website blocking

Pakistan's new Information and Technology minister has warned that Google could be blocked in the country if the company fails to remove supposedly blasphemous and objectionable material from its video-sharing website YouTube.

Minister of State for IT and Telecommunication Anusha Rahman Khan made the remarks on her first day in office while talking about Pakistan's efforts to end a nine-month ban on YouTube for hosting clips from the film Innocence of Muslims . Khan was quoted as saying by The News daily:

It all depends on our negotiation clout. If they persist with their stance, we can block Google in Pakistan as a last resort as there are many alternative search engines available on the Web.

We will pump in extra money if needed and do whatever is in our capacity to bring YouTube back to Pakistan without compromising our ethical values.

She said she will request Google to remove objectionable material from YouTube or at least ensure that access to it is blocked in Pakistan.

Pakistani religious groups responded violently to the film Innocence of Muslims, leading to YouTube being blocked from September 17 last year. The ban was lifted for a few hours in December before being reinstated following protests from religious groups.



Update: The Great Firewall of Pakistan...

Pakistan considers what to do with an expensive new internet censorship toy bought in from China

Link Here 3rd January 2013
Full story: Internet Censorship in Pakistan...internet website blocking

The Pakistan Telecommunication Authority (PTA) and the Ministry of Information Technology are debating how to use a new system to censor websites and their contents.

The system is being imported from China and is expected to control internet traffic and activities across the country as per PTA policies.

PTA have been holding consultations over this new project with other parties interested in censorship including the Ministry of Interior, the Armed Forces of Pakistan, various intelligence agencies and NTSC.

Sources privy to the Ministry for Information Technology told Pakistan Today that the ministry had a few reservations regarding the system, its capabilities and above all its massive cost.

According to details about the project, a central point would be established by PTA from where all internet traffic inside the country would flow and supposedly objectionable content and pornographic websites would be blocked from there. Under the new mechanism, URL filtering software worth $ 5 million would also be installed at four landing stations of submarine cable which would control internet content on mobile phones as well.

According to media reports, various objections are being raised by groups who contend that, emails, mobile phone internet traffic and mobile phone calls would then be monitored by the government.

PTA Chairman Farooq Ahmed Khan denied such surveillance but confirmed that in the next 60 days a new mechanism for blocking un-Islamic, pornographic and blasphemous material from websites will be activated.



Update: Freedom of Information Blocked...

Pakistan's governments orders ISPs to block all porn and supposed blasphemy

Link Here 4th September 2012
Full story: Internet Censorship in Pakistan...internet website blocking

Pakistan's government has issued a key policy directive to block all blasphemous and pornographic material on the internet by installing an effective modern blocking system.

Following the personal interest shown by the incumbent Prime Minister Raja Pervaiz Ashraf and after consulting President Asif Ali Zardari, the Ministry of Information Technology has already issued directions to the Pakistan Telecommunication Authority (PTA) to update the system for effective monitoring and control of supposedly blasphemous and pornographic material.

Pervaiz Ashraf had initiated the move a few months back as minister for information technology and after having been shown supposedly blasphemous material that is freely available to internet users in Pakistan because of non-availability of blocking systems.

The policy directive has been drafted cautiously to ensure that the move does neither affect the freedom of information in any manner nor allows the authorities to misuse the facility beyond the mandated goal of blocking only blasphemous and pornographic material. Just like Pakistan doesn't allow the misuse of its blasphemy laws.

The dictate requires:

PTA to establish at the earliest a dedicated unit while allocating appropriate funds/budget and human resources, supported by the state of the art technical solutions and upgraded call centre, with the mandate to take requisite measures for proactively and independently blocking the websites displaying the blasphemous and pornographic content.

Update: Monitoring team

15th September 2012. See  article from

Pakistan will set up a monitoring team focusing on supposedly detrimental material to Islam and obscene material being released on the internet and being replicated in Pakistan. All anti Islamic sites would be fully monitored round the clock and remedial actions would be taken.

The decision was taken at a high level meeting chaired by Federal Minister for Interior, Senator Rehman Malik and attended by Federal Secretary Interior, Secretary Information Technology, Chairman PTA, Additional Secretary Ministry of Interior, Director FIA and other senior officers of the two ministries.



Updated: Censorship Extremism...

Pakistan winds up internet users by temporarily banning Twitter over a couple of supposedly offensive posts

Link Here 22nd May 2012
Full story: Internet Censorship in Pakistan...internet website blocking

Pakistan's government blocked the popular social networking website Twitter after material considered 'offensive' to Islam was posted on the site.

Mohammed Yaseen, the head of Pakistan's telecommunications body, said Twitter refused to remove material referring to a group on Facebook in which users post images of the religious character Muhammed.

The ban was lifted eight hours later. Interior Minister Rehman Malik wrote on Twitter itself to reveal that prime minister Yusuf Raza Gilani had lifted the ban. Malik tweeted:

I spoke to PM and informed how people are feeling about it. PM ordered to reopen the Twitter.

Husain Haqqani, the previous Pakistani ambassador to the UN, wrote on the website:

Ban on any form of free expression has no place in a democracy. If some1 offends, bar offender instead of banning medium.

Update: Everybody Draw Mohammed Day

22nd May 2012. See  article from

Pakistan once again blocked access to Twitter over the weekend because of concerns over blasphemy. Apparently the block related to the Draw Mohammed Day Facebook page, this time apparently because people were tweeting about it.

Two years ago, Pakistan blocked access to Facebook, Twitter and other sites after a competition page was created calling on users to draw the religious character Mohammed. A year later, there was another short-lived block on the anniversary of the original competition.

Thousands of users went online to protest what they saw as a pointless and ineffective ban that actually drew attention to what it was supposed to block.



A Helluva Read...

'Research' from the religious university Brigham Young finds that adolescent literature contains strong language

Link Here 22nd May 2012
Full story: Internet Censorship in Pakistan...internet website blocking

A Helluva Read : Profanity in Adolescent Literature


Although the use of profanity has been examined in a number of types of media, to our knowledge profanity has not been examined in adolescent literature. Thus, the frequency and portrayal of profanity was coded in 40 bestselling adolescent novels.

Results revealed that some novels did not contain a single instance of profanity, whereas others contained hundreds of often very strong profanity.

When profanity was used, characters were likely to be young, rich, attractive, and of pronounced social status.

Novels directed at older adolescents contained much more profanity. However, age guidance or content warnings are not found on the books themselves.

Discussion is provided regarding the implications of the findings and the appropriateness of including content warnings in adolescent literature.

Offsite Comment: Our swear words have been devalued by overuse -- but not because teenagers are reading too many profane books

22nd May 2012. See  article from

Apparently experts (unidentified, as experts so often are) have estimated that American youths use an average of ninety swear words a day. This makes them seem quite restrained as anyone who has stood at a bus-stop with a collection of British teenagers can testify -- only ninety times a day? On the other hand there are parents of adolescents who will be surprised to learn that their offspring are capable of articulating or muttering as many as ninety words of any kind in the course of a day.

To my mind it's unlikely that all these foul-mouthed adolescents have learned the habit from books, since many of them never open one.

...Read the full article


30th April

Update: Illegal Blocking...

Court rules that Pakistan's website blocking is illegal as it does not comply with the laws of the land

Reporters Without Borders has welcomed the ruling that the high court of the southeastern province of Sindh issued in response to a joint petition on 17 April by Bolo Bhi, a Pakistani civil rights group, and other human rights activists in a bid to stop illegal website censorship by the Pakistan Telecommunication Authority (PTA).

According to a Bolo Bhi press release, the petition asked the court to ensure that no website was blocked, censored or restricted in violation of Pakistan's Constitution.

After examining the petition, the high court served notice on the federal government and ordered the PTA not to block any website except in accordance with the provisions of the Pakistan Telecommunication Act of 1996. This law regulates the PTA's control of telecommunications networks and requires, inter alia, that this control be exercised in a fair and transparent manner.

The high court's ruling, if respected, would make it impossible for the government to introduce any nationwide website filtering system.


10th February

Update: Scratching the Surface...

Pakistan blocks 13,000 porn sites

Pakistan has blocked 13,000 supposedly obscene Web sites and are taking additional steps to prevent the spread of such materials across the Internet.

The Times of India reported on Friday that Parliamentary Secretary for Information Technology Nawab Liaqat Ali Khan had made the remark, calling it a serious issue that the government is trying to address at the moment.

He went on to express concern at the rapid spread of obscene Web sites and admitted the government had no mechanism to block these sites, but pointed out a ministerial committee and a sub-committee had been formed to look into this matter, the report stated.


20th September

Update: Losing Facebook...

Pakistan high court orders blocking of Facebook in a long running reaction to the Mohammed cartoons

The Lahore High Court has ordered Pakistan's Ministry of Information and Technology to block access to all websites in Pakistan especially American social networking website Facebook, spreading religious hatred on internet and to submit a compliance report by October 6.

The judge, however, made it clear that no search engine including Google would be blocked.

The court issued this order while hearing a petition seeking a permanent ban on the access to American social networking website Facebook for hosting competition featuring supposedly blasphemous caricatures of Mohammed.

Muhammad & Ahmad, a 'public interest' litigation firm, filed this petition for a permanent ban on access to Facebook for hosting a fresh blasphemous caricature drawing contest world over under a title 2nd Annual Draw Muhammad Day-May 20, 2011 . The petitioner pointed out that Islamic values are being derogated in the name of information that is hurting feeling of billions of Muslims. He said despite order of the court, ministry of information technology did not block websites spreading religious hatred.


5th August

Update: No Jokers...

Pakistan gets wound up by jokes about its leadership

Pakistan's Minister of Interior, Rehman Malik, recently announced a 14 year prison sentence for anyone found propagating SMS and emails ridiculing or making fun of the present Pakistani leadership and its elected government officials.

The statement issued by the Ministry of Interior actually referenced the Cyber Crime Act of 2009 which apparently may subject the violators to at least 14 years behind bars.

Since the start of this newly elected government, the local leadership, namely the President of Pakistan Asif Zardari and Minister of Interior Rehman Malik have been at the receiving end of some very hard hitting gutt wrenching jokes, which in turn a propagated across SMS's and emails like wildfire not only in Pakistan but also across the world.

Seeing their local leadership at the base of many hard hitting jokes, the government decided to take such critical offenders to task. Here lies a very important problem, it is surprising to note that the Cyber Crime Act does even not exist, the Pakistan Electronic Crimes Ordinance of 2007 ironically had no mention of any crime related to SMS's let alone sending and even categorizing humorous SMS's which may tarnish the image of the an unspecified local leadership, the maximum prison sentence in that bill was set at a maximum of 7-years [10-years if it involved a minor].

The statements made by Ministry of Interior were challenged, and the only official response that has been received till now that the correct draft has not yet been released to the public. It only seems that the politically motivated statement was more or less geared towards scaring the general public into submission and hopefully stopping political rivals from ridiculing them.


22nd July

Heard the One about the Sensitive President?...

Pakistanis face 14 years for jokes about the president

Pakistanis who send jokes about President Asif Zardari by text message, email or blog risk being arrested and given a 14-year prison sentence.

The country's interior minister, Rehman Malik, announced the Federal Investigation Agency (FIA) had been asked to trace electronically transmitted jokes that slander the political leadership of the country under the new Cyber Crimes Act.

Malik, said the move would punish the authors of ill motivated and concocted stories through emails and text messages against the civilian leadership.

The step, which was described by human rights groups as draconian and authoritarian, came after government was particularly riled by a barrage of caustic jokes being sent to the presidency's official email.

Zardari has proved to be prickly about what others say of him since he was elected as president by the national parliament a year ago. Most of the criticism stems from his government's inability to address problems such as severe power outages and inflation, and his inability to shake off old allegations of corruption.

The ban has become the focus of intense television debate in Pakistan, as Zardari's aides have attempted to justify the move using every argument ranging from counter-terrorism concerns to saying that women parliamentarians had received abusive messages.


24th January

Capital Cyber Offences...

Pakistan secretly introduces draconian cyber law

The Pakistani government has issued a new ordinance to prevent cyber crimes some of which can be punished with death or life in prison. Media and civil society organisations have criticised the new legislation calling it another attack on freedom of expression and on freedom of the press.

The law, which was adopted in secret and is retroactive to 31 December 2007, encompasses 18 offences that carry severe punishments.

But Peter Jacob begs to differ. For the executive secretary of the National Commission for Justice and Peace, the human rights agency of the Catholic Bishops’ Conference of Pakistan, this bill is a restriction on media and electronic communication. Under this legislation it will be very problematic to send SMS or e-mails. They will become a crime.

For him the secret rush by the caretaker government to approve the ordinance is baseless since we will have a new government in a month time. Unfortunately the government has bad advisers and for this reason it adopted a bad law at a bad time.

According to Pakistan’s National Journalists’ Forum, this law will negatively affect the right of the people to have access to information and their freedom of expression. The fact that it was adopted by an illegitimate government a month before the elections makes it another tool of censorship.


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