Internet censorship in Pakistan

The Government of Pakistan censors all internet traffic by means of routing all connections through a central exchange which is administered by the Internet Exchange. Furthermore Pakistani ISPs are also under orders to block certain websites on their own routers. A common victim by major ISPs in Pakistan was the weblogs hosted at blogspot.com (The blanket ban on the blogspot.com blogs is lifted), amongst other important social networking websites.

The Government of Pakistan some years back established the Pakistan Internet Exchange (PIE), as a means to monitor all incoming and outgoing Internet traffic from Pakistan. The primary purpose of PIE is to filter content as the government deems fit. A secondary purpose is to keep track of all incoming and outgoing e-mail, which by parliamentary order are kept for a period of at least three months.

The Pakistan Telecommunication Company (PTCL) announced in April, 2003 that it would be stepping up censorship of pornographic websites. “Anti-Islamic” and “blasphemous” sites were also censored. In early March 2004, the Federal Investigation Agency (FIA) ordered Internet service providers (ISPs) to block access to all pornographic content. The ISPs, however, displayed absence of technical know-how, and advocated that the PTCL would be better fit to carry out FIA’s requirement. A Malaysian firm was then hired to provide a filtering system.

The blanket ban on the blogspot.com blogs was lifted on May 2, 2006. Shortly thereafter the blanket ban was reimposed, and extended to Typepad blogs.The blanket ban on the blogspot.com blogs is lifted again. Pakistan also blocked Baloch nationalist websites.

The government of Pakistan currently has a simplistic IP based filtering procedure in place, and since all websites hosted on blogspot resolve to the same IP address, they all have been blocked now blogspot is unblocked in all over Pakistan.

Since the PIE uses Cisco routers to block traffic, which are capable of more complex filtering rules, the government removed this blanket block on all blogspot weblogs few months ago as it has the capability to only target specific websites.

As all internet traffic is routed through the PIE, Pakistani ISPs have also been ordered to also block certain websites on their routers. Previously, all the major ISPs in Pakistan blocked weblogs hosted at blogspot.com, But now its been unblocked.

Source: Wikipedia


Leave a Reply