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Why Filtering Internet the Right Way is Necessary?

By  | 29, Aug 2013 | 30 Comments



Filtering Internet Why Filtering Internet the Right Way is Necessary?Filtering internet is nothing new to the world. More than 95 percent of the world markets (where internet is available) filter the internet to make sure that the content available over internet is in-line with their social values and local laws.

Almost every country — from USA to Singapore and from Sweden to South Africa and beyond –  filter internet based on their needs and laws.

Some countries block child pornography while others block explicit content or the websites hurting the national agendas of respective countries.

Pakistan does the filtering too. And this filtration (process) is heavily flawed.

Here is the process of blocking a website:

  • A website is identified for evaluation (through user reporting or by self determination)
  • The Inter-Ministerial Committee evaluates the website
  • If website is decided to be blocked then Ministry of Information Technology and Telecom issues a blockade directive to PTA
  • PTA issues blockade directive to all ISPs
  • and the website(s) or webpage(s) gets blocked

Here are the flaws:

  • There are no rules available for allowable or block-able internet content. Get the Rules first, get them quickly, make them public.
  • There’s no information/list available (publicly) about the blocked websites
  • There’s no information available (publicly) about the reasons a website is blocked, or remedies with which the website can get unblocked
  • There’s no way available to challenge IMC’s decision
  • No one can report a website for blockade (yes, complaints sent to PTA are turned down)
  • There’s no contact information available for Inter-Ministerial Committee, hence there’s no way of reporting a website to IMC

In other words, IMC or Inter-Ministerial Committee is a ghost department (for majority of Pakistanis) that can decide the fate of a website without hearing the viewpoint of website-owner.

Due to such flaws anyone (with powers of course) can go ahead and get a website blocked. Here is an example of how Farooq Awan, then PTA Chairman, had managed to block two websites that had bashed him.

Similarly, some videos against former MD of PTV were blocked in the country without due-evaluation by IMC. YouTube was blocked in the country on orders of Prime Minister, instead of IMC.

Even today a website, i.e. ptclworkers.com is blocked without any apparent reason and there’s no way for the website owner to get it unblocked.

Blocking child pornography won’t bring you criticism, or blocking a website that circulates unconsented pictures or videos of (local) girls will not bring you any bad press. Its the process, method and flawed approach that raises question.

All Government needs to do is to simply devise the rules for internet content as per laws of Pakistan. Publish a list of websites that are blocked and the reasons that are associated with the blockade. Plus a tribunal/committee that should accept reconsideration appeals against blocked website. This committee should review the website again and see if the its still violating the rules or not.

Do it once and for good.

P.S. Following rules and good intent make things easy, or it will take you years just to devise the rules.

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  • Zohaib Jahan

    well said…
    Pk lacks of rules and regulations about filtering data….

  • Yasir Mahmood

    Public Will Definately Come to Know weather a Website is Blocked When They will Open a Site and See ” Access Denied “

    • Shahid Saleem

      Yes, but why? For some people, pastebin was blocked. A site that many coders use to share with other coders. Why was it blocked?

      What are people afraid of, written porn?

      • jahaz

        Current govt. and govt. machinery is composed of people who used to buy explicit books and booklets from urdu bazar. In those days, it was a BIG invisible market. Written pr8n is a reality :D

        • Shahid Saleem

          Still doesn’t explain pastebin, unless they can show it was overwhelmingly used for erotica.

  • Ali8307

    All government need to do is simply tell us how much they need to stop the fu*k up :/

  • Mohammad Ali

    Now they are blocking proxy sites

    • Shahid Saleem

      It takes rs 600/month (or less) to set up a VPS and enable a VPN-type proxy. Even better, the source code is out there and easily modified to hide your tracks. One Rs 600 server can handle dozens of users simultaneously.

      • http://www.ipcsol.com/ Imran Shafqat

        When there are free VPN servers available, why pay for our own.

        • fragsack

          because paid ones are better? no?

          • Shahid Saleem

            Yes, paid ones exist that do not watch your traffic or inject ads or anything like that. Al though I am talking about running your own server.

      • Salman Abbas

        I got a $5/month VPS from Digitalocean.com in their Netherlands DC and use it for all kinds of purposes including as a VPN, development server for testing client projects and Minecraft server lol

      • Mohammad Ali

        Okay thanks

      • Mohammad Ali

        We are not mad to pay for us there are lot of proxy sites. 500 Is my monthly broadband rent and you advising me to pay 600 only for vpn lol

        • Shahid Saleem

          Again, it is your choice. Do you trust the free proxy sites not to tamper or log your internet traffic? You have NO REAL REASON to expect them to be honest. After all, why would they offer anything for free? All the network traffic and hosting costs them money.

          Think about it: you have to give them something in exchange for a free proxy use. If they don’t ask you anything in exchange, then maybe they’re selling your information to someone.

          • Mohammad Ali

            Yup it is bcz there is nothing for free. Thanks bro.

  • twister286

    Few developed countries filter the net for their political purposes (Singapore is a good example)…most western countries only block child pornography, otherwise they dont have issues with political websites. If that was the case, you’d have Labor governments blocking conservative websites and vice versa.

    In Pakistan the process is opaque, arbitrary and politically driven rather than being derived from a set of uniform regulations.

    • Shahid Saleem

      Surely you don’t expect a reasoned balanced post from a guy who cannot bring himself to condemn salman taseer’s murder: bit .ly/18nVcpj

      • Salman Abbas

        Aw on the disgusting part of Pakistani web again..

      • Aamir Attaa

        Can you point out where I was unreasonable or unbalanced?

        And also, pls explain that why you had to relate it with Salman Taseer?

  • Waqas Tariq

    Why is filtering the internet needed in the first place?

    Free and uncensored internet for all!

    • aamir7

      First few lines explain your question.

  • http://sms4joy.com/ Bilal Malik

    I heard that youtube is going to open .. is that true ?

    • Salman Abbas

      I heard that the Dodo is returning.. is that true?

      • http://sms4joy.com/ Bilal Malik

        i don’t know about this .. even i don’t know what is Dodo ? can you tell me ? :P

        • Shahid Saleem

          Wow. Even in the age where you can select some text, right-click and search google for it, you expect to be spoonfed.

        • Salman Abbas

          Dodo was a bird which existed until the 17th century and went extinct because of mass killings by humans. Because of it being one of the best-known extinct animals, it has given birth to the phrase “to go the way of the Dodo” which means to become extinct or obsolete, to fall out of common usage or practice, or to become a thing of the past

          So censorship-free internet has gone the way of the Dodo in Pakistan and I don’t see it returning any time soon (just like the Dodo). We’ve been “hearing” of YouTube unblockage since a few years now. Even if YouTube does get unblocked, who knows what other important sites they’re gonna block.

    • Guest

      Dodo was a bird which existed until the 17th century and went extinct because of mass killings by humans. Because of it being one of the best-known extinct animals, it has given birth to the phrase “to go the way of the Dodo” which means to become extinct or obsolete, to fall out of common usage or practice, or to become a thing of the past

      So censorship-free internet has gone the way of the Dodo and I don’t see it returning any time soon (just like the Dodo). We’ve been “hearing” of YouTube unblockage since a few years now. Even if YouTube does get unblocked, who knows what other important sites they’re gonna block.

  • Salman Abbas

    USA doesn’t really censor the internet other than a few rare exceptions.. they can just snatch the (gTLD) domain if needed lol

  • Guest147

    aur do in ke hath mein power. ab kuch nahi hosakta. they’ll abuse this power with no means. and a revolution is needed to get rid of these so called moral guardians.