National ICT R&D Fund has asked for proposals from academia/research institutions, companies, organizations for the development, deployment and operation of a national level URL Filtering and Blocking System.
This URL Filtering and Blocking system will work as a country firewall and will potentially be able to block the access of any URL, throughout the country.
According to RFP (Request for Proposal), available at ICT R&D Fund website, system should be capable of URL filtering and blocking, from domain level to sub folder, file levels and file types – in addition to have ability of blocking a single IP or range of IPs.
It said that solution should be able to handle bandwidth of 85Gbps, with scalability for 40-50 percent growth every year.
You can view RFP here, and FAQs here.
Pakistani authorities have long urged to have a country-level firewall in place to block specific URLs countrywide, such as those which are blasphemous in nature.
PTA even asked for quotations for blocking system from international players – those who are offering services in UAE or KSA, but couldn’t buy the solution due to higher prices. Vendors in China were also contacted but deal didn’t go through with any of them.
It merits mentioning here that PTA recently asked ISPs to block as many as thirteen thousand websites, which were of explicit in nature.
Activists, on the other hands, fear that such firewall can be misused by the government for political and other obvious reasons. They demand that list of blocked websites should be made public, possibly through PTA website, detailing the blockade reason for each website.