Internet Freedom: Pakistan Stands in the List of ‘Partly Free’

Freedomhouse has published it’s annual report consisting of the level of the freedom different countries have on the internet. For those who are unaware, freedom house is a non-governmental organization that published reports showing the level of democratic freedom in different countries.

Freedom House is an international non-governmental organization (NGO) based in Washington, D.C. that conducts research and advocacy on democracy, political freedom and human rights. It publishes an annual report assessing the degree of perceived democratic freedoms in each country, which is used in political science research.  (Wikipedia)

A study done under the name of “Global Assessment of Internet and Digital Media” was carried out in 37 countries of the world, including Pakistan and showed the stats regarding the level of freedom each country has over the internet.

Pakistan stands in the category of Partly Free out of the following three categories.

  • Total Free
  • Not Free
  • Partly Free

Pakistan stood eligible for this title because of the bans government implemented on different portals consisting of the video-sharing website YouTube, the photo-sharing application Flickr, twitter and the social-networking tool Facebook alongwith partial ban on different sites and other links as well.

As per report, the first incident of blocking occurred at the end of February 2006 when the Pakistan Telecommunication Authority (PTA) issued instructions to all internet-service providers (ISPs) in Pakistan to block any website displaying the controversial cartoon images of the prophet Muhammad that had been published in a Danish newspaper. The block particularly focused on Google and Blogspot ban ban. The ban continued for approximately two months.

More recently, upon orders from the Lahore High Court, the PTA, using the pretext of limiting the circulation of blasphemous content, instituted an extensive blockage of internet content from May 19 to 31, 2010.

The heightened restrictions were in response to the creation of a “Everybody Draw Mohammed Day” contest on Facebook and a legal appeal initiated by a relatively unknown organization called the Islamic Lawyers Movement. The ban resulted in the blocking of 10,548 websites and critical information sources like YouTube, Flickr, the user generated online encyclopedia Wikipedia, and more.

Mobile-phone providers also halted Blackberry services, at first completely, but then only web-browsing functions.

FreedomHouse report on Pakistan states that in Pakistan, with a population of 184.4 million, the internet penetration is only 11 %. Which has faced blockage on web 2.0 applications as well as substantial political censorship. Whereas no bloggers/online users have  been arrested ever in this regard.

In the worldwide report, Estonia tops the list with maximum internet freedom followed by United States.

Iran stands first in observing maximum blockage/censorship in the country where government had taken strong steps to implement the restrictions.

Amongst the list of 37 countries examined for internet freedom, only 8 countries got the title of Totally Free whereas 11 stood in the list of Not Free, while the remaining ones including Pakistan(with 55 points) are Partly Free.

Complete score table can be downloaded here.


    • Note that they were still FREE to say that online without censorship by the GOVERNMENT. Investigation by the government is a different matter. Months after the posts they made they are still accessible, yes?

      In Pakistan, we are PREVENTED by the government from many things. And not just the government, local ISPs too. A few months ago I was using Worldcall and reading some article about a cartoonist/writer from Iran. It said she was the great-granddaughter of an old Iranian king, from the Qajjar dynasty (removed by coup by the Shah of Iran’s father). I forget the king’s name, but it was starting with Muhammad. So I clicked on a link to wikipedia that went to

      And it was blocked! I tried another test, Muhammad_Ali_Jinnah. Also blocked! Why? Because Worldcall (or maybe PTA) wanted to prevent people from visiting and seeing his portraits (not the blasphemous cartoons but older neutral ones). Bad filter, I know, but what kind of country do we live in where we cannot even view an article about our Prophet? If someone adds something to the page, Muslims in Pakistan are unable to correct it, yes?

      So, partially free.

      • Tum ne mujhay bataya nahi tum yahan aanay se pehle peetay kya ho??
        You are free to say and view anything, in return the government will track you in real life, tracking and invading your privacy.
        You are free to say anything, blocked from viewing certain things and in return the government lets you roam around freely.
        I WILL PREFER 2!
        Because for me my real world matters in which I actually live in.
        & secondly you can evade this ‘net blockade’ something you can’t do when the government in after you in real life.

  • — Tum ne mujhay bataya nahi tum yahan aanay se pehle peetay kya ho??

    Orange juice. ITs healthy, unlike the crappy cola drinks.

    — You are free to say anything, blocked from viewing certain things and in return the government lets you roam around freely.

    Excuse me but how can you “roam around freely” when you are “blocked from viewing certain things”? Wow you cant see the contradiction there? It’s RIGHT IN FRONT OF YOUR EYES!

    In many countries around the world, Youtube is banned. All of it. In Thailand because of videos against the King, in Turkey because of videos against Attaturk. Do you think that’s acceptable restriction?

    — Because for me my real world matters in which I actually live in.

    For you maybe but what about for someone else. What you consider “real world” can be considered “limited world” for others who live in the same town as you & and have the same religion but have different views on some things. I ask you simple question: MAybe villagers want a more restricted internet than you. Maybe their “real world” is “limited” world for you. How can you convince them to open there minds? You certainly tell me to give up opening internet for you…

    — & secondly you can evade this ‘net blockade’ something you can’t do when the government in after you in real life.

    Sorry but how do you think you can “evade”? Do you use encryption? Do you know that even if they cannot see your packets (PTA have deep packet inspection, other governments can probably use fake SSL certificates that your browser thinks its real, mor examples), encryption DOES NOT HELP YOU HIDE:

  • Well, Should we really care about this Internet freedom rating ?

    If yes then in case PTA get so angelic that it starts filtering all pornographic websites that our youth can easily access….this rating will go DOWN.

    If you are mentioning Freedom, it doesn’t come only access to social networks which grow in near past.

    Can you use standard VoIP which is blocked to stop so called grey telephony operators which you still track with GSM bills of customers after spending millions just to block port 5060 ? When PTA says you can’t use your Internet for Voice communication all your Yahoo, MSN, Skype bla bla messengers are illegal too..right ?

    • I think PTA is vague on purpose on this point. They are against computer to phone or phone to phone over IP type VOIP but not against computer to computer VOIP.

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