PTA is Planning to Setup China-like National Firewall in Pakistan

Pakistan Telecommunication Authority (PTA) is planning to develop and setup a sophisticated turn-key Technical solution named “Web Management Solution (WMS)”, at a national level, for identifying and blocking access to the objectionable internet content and websites.

A request for proposal, for the development and deployment of the national firewall, has been issued by the regulator.

The authority has widened the scope of work for the WMS in which content of following topics will be identified and blocked on the internet for the general public.

  • Blasphemous.
  • Pornographic
  • Indecent or immoral
  • Anti-State
  • Contempt of court
  • Law and order
  • Incitement to an offense
  • Sectarian
  • Others as stated in law for time being in force to be described unlawful according to Pakistan Electronic Crime Act (PECA).

Salient Features of Web Management Solution

PTA said that it wants a solution with an ability to identify IP addresses and information about users who are are accessing unlawful and objectionable content.

The solution is going to have an ability to display a warning to the user upon accessing unlawful web content.

It will have the ability to restrict delivery of unlawful content to the public without affecting any other content being served by the same server, site or domain.

Firewall is likely to be designed as a crawler, a program that systematically browses the World Wide Web in order to create an index of data with inbuilt and auto-learning functionality to automatically identify and classify unlawful content and make it unavailable for the public.

The system will provide real-time analysis of Internet traffic to automatically identify unlawful internet content (i.e. web pages, images, videos, words, applications etc.) and block it for public viewership as and when required.

National firewall will reportedly be able to classify websites (i.e. social, pornographic, Financial, sports, etc.). It will have an ability to collect countrywide statistics related to websites (i.e. number of times being accessed; the number of sessions etc.).

More detail about Web Solution Management could be viewed here.

PTA Proposals for Prequaalification

Roles of WBS Solution Provider

The internet watchdog has sought applications from service providers for complete deployment, management and maintenance of the new internet mechanism. It will include supply, installation, and configuration of applicable hardware/software/middleware to establish Web Management Solution (WMS) for live management of Internet traffic passing through country’s internet gateways.

  • PTA wants selected solution providers to provide training to designated PTA Human Resource for carrying out Hardware and Software configuration and Operations of the WMS.
  • PTA or its designated team should be able to easily operate WMS and configure changes to tailor the solution for on-going developments in the field.
  • WMS should be robust and scalable for supporting increases in International bandwidth and newer Internet technologies/protocols.
  • PTA wants WMS hardware and software support at no cost for a period of (03) three years.

The authority has given a deadline of March 08 to interested service providers to submit their technical proposals along with budgets.

Deployment of National Firewall Went Unsuccessful in the Past

It is worth mentioning here that the government of Pakistan previously made efforts to establish a firewall at national level but it was harshly criticized by internet and human rights associations.

In 2012, National ICT R&D Fund, now Ignite, on the behalf of the government, decided to develop a National URL Blocking and Filtering System mainly to block objectionable and unlawful content on the internet.

Faced with uproar by digital and human rights associations and under severe public pressure, the $10 million project was abandoned by the Fund shortly after the Request for Proposals (RFPs) was published.

Efforts of Internet Censorship

The government and the authority took various measures to block indecent, objectionable and unlawful content. An Inter-Ministerial Committee by Ministry of IT was given the task and power to tackle internet censorship, but was ordered to cease functions by Islamabad High Court three years back.

Supreme Court of Pakistan also took notice of the widespread availability of blasphemous and indecent content and directed the authority to block such content. PTA blocked nearly 400,000 websites two years ago and it has continued to do so from time to time.

Internet Service Providers (ISPs) have made efforts to comply, however, their capacity remains limited and this fact has been conveyed to the internet watchdog many times in the past.

In August 2016, Cyber Crime Bill was made a law. Not only did it monitor unlawful content on the internet but it also introduced punishments for unlawful activities via the internet.

PTA, in its awareness campaign, also sends text messages to mobile phone users time and again, asking them to report objectionable and unlawful content.

  • PTA can go F itself. We’re already in 20th century technologically, no thanks to the internet and telecom taxes and now they want to limit access to information.

    • What if you go deep into the topic? You’ll find your explanations itself. This will allow stability in our country…
      Following fundamental will be disabled.
      1) Anti-State
      2) Contempt of court
      3) Law and order
      4) Incitement to an offense
      So how would it limitless the access to info?
      They arnt going for Wikipedia or any informative site. But the stuff that are headache in our social development.

      • In this corrupt hellhole, it’ll only be used to corrupt governments’ dubious ends. You think China uses this firewall for all that? Do us all a favour, Google “Tiananmen Square Massacre”. Read that story fully before reading further and replying to my comment.

        Chinese people can’t Google that story. First of all, they don’t have Google. The state-sponsored search engine they do have will never show any results that will show the Chinese government in a bad light. That’s what this firewall is for, it lets government commit atrocities then restrict the public’s access to the information regarding said atrocities. What the Chinese government did in that square is just one of many cruelties committed by them. If someone starts speaking out against the government there and starts gaining traction with the general public it isn’t uncommon for that person to go “missing”.

        If free speech and freedom of information created chaos and kept law and order then the whole of EU, Canada, Australia and God knows how many other countries would be in flames right now. Freedom of information keeps governments honest, or at least shines a big light on the corruption that’s going on.

        • Your whole argument is based on one assumption that “PTA is planning to setup China like firewall”. Take out China firewall out of it , dont compare with great wall of China..and consider what this firewall will be blocking…what is wrong in blocking the content writer mentioned?

          • No, his argument is based on the assumption that this government is corrupt. And that is an established fact at this point.

      • FYI, Chinese government even censors Wikipedia. Any articles that go against “state policy” are censored. Now you’ll tell me that Wikipedia causes chaos and unrest, is anti-state, commits contempt of court, disturbs law and order and all that BS?

        Please do educate yourself fully before supporting or opposing a cause.

  • so who defines following points. the govt itself or the some neutral body. If they’re following chinese version of firewall then RIP to democracy and free speech. Pakistan is already a police state

    Contempt of court
    Law and order
    Incitement to an offense

    • Dear Waqas,

      If you are in Pakistan be grateful as you have not seen real police states yet. None of these points any country will allow, do you need freedom to execute any of these?

      Yes it should not be used to kill freedom of speech, but then criticize judiciary for any poor decision or army for any wrong doing should not be part of freedom of speech?

    • You’re dope my friend. Your context seems western to me. Somehow it feel good at western countries #Fucknetnetrality but dont forget we’re indeed evolved as Islamic state? Keep the good stuff. While implementing all this most of us will not satisfy but at end this will bring good nd peace to mind.

      • And who is going to define whats good? Something might be appealing to you but others might find it offensive. No one has right to impose one’s view on others

      • peace to mind? my privacy is something i care about a lot. Sorry but I do not trust the system in Pakistan. How can I trust our police? They are not even human. They are the worst creature on earth. and they will have access to my all online activity. will read my messages, email, financial information. Just Imagine

        An Islamic State cannot allow breach of privacy. Got it?

  • so in short this government wants to introduce any and all sorts of commie procedures it can in its tenure

  • Porn Is already blocked
    And the most they are gonna do with this firewall is block Facebook and YouTube
    And Twitter etc again
    You don’t need a firewall to stop
    Blasphemous content
    And contempt of court
    They should punish the ones who are doing contempt of court on TV daily

    • Totally agree with Dr sb, The should punish all politicians and anchors or who ever who are using bad words for our institutions, in addition to that, you cant stop bad people by blocking everything, you need to educate people first, Pakistan is already a police state and with this restriction, welcome to

    • Please highlight ” You don’t need a firewall to stop ,Blasphemous content, Sectarianism ”

      Don’t we need to punish those who are misusing the power of judiciary ?

  • This initiative is indeed the best in view if its going to implement in a corrupt free State. Here if PTA is going to take any good initiative its gonna corrode by those blood sucking parasites who own the law. Its like you made it.. your innovation.. your labor, your zeal, your idea, your creativity… hahahahahahhah..! Now its ours.. and we will use it for our Very OWN Good…!!!

  • This is not communism. It is islamic extremism. The exact opposite end of the spectrum.

    The country seems to be regressing day by day.

  • What a pathetic Joke!
    PTA is just useless with useless IT professionals, they are even clueless to resemble a whole ‘System setup” with “Firewall”, I just want to know, what are the qualifications of those Director and Asst. Director of PTA (lol, shame on them, maybe they don’t even feel shame)
    They can’t even develop the system by their own, by hiring IT professionals on merit, I just don’t understand how will they know if the Setup will work accordingly as they lacks the professionalism. who will monitor it?
    lol, that’s why Govt. job is so popular, Jao aur ja ke soo jao!

    • Government earlier hired Dr. Ismail. Google his qualification. Get to know other people working in PTA, Aamir Atta knows a few of them, he can help you with your ignorance.

  • good to have as not just china almost every country restrict any data that fall out of national interest. this is what a civilization states. Nobody is free for everything. there are always limits and individuals have to live within them.

  • This is plain unacceptable.These people are shamelessly working against net neutrality and pouring money in it while basic needs of country like health and education get ignored.

      • You are naïve if you think get simply utilizing a firewall on national scale will prevent ‘users’ from accessing dark/deep web for sinister agendas i.e child pornography and other things.

        On the other note, deep web is also used for other beneficial things too.

      • You are naïve if you think get simply utilizing a firewall on national scale will prevent ‘users’ from accessing dark/deep web for sinister agendas i.e child porn0graphy and other things.

        On the other note, deep web is also used for other beneficial things too.

      • FBI, are stopping dark web illegal stuff and tracing their owners | users etc. How can they? Anonymous Group shutdown 20,000 child pornography sites in a day. How can they? Please, try to think big.

  • What a completely idiotic idea. Spitting in the wind. Educating and maturing the population is the proper way.

    How many times has this foolish idea been tried and failed. Frustrating to see to see this ‘big father’syndrome cropping up every few years.

    I belong to the era when we set up the first Internet company along with Cybernet. Since then have seen this silliness rear its head due to some insecure and illiterate politician or someone in authority.

    Don’t people remember the attempts to save the inbound termination revenues and such other that led to the spate of VPNs and real insecurity to the State.

    Sure they will ban Cryptocurrencies and Block Chain and think that IoT is a threat to National security…

    I guarantee you that the ‘Dark Web’ will become popular and ToR like browsers will completely open our defenses to the world..

    Can we invite all these people PTA, Government, FIA, politicians, et al, to an open an televised debate so they can state their case and not hide behind desks of bureaucracy.

  • i think pakistan doesnt have such technology like china has .. so don’t waste money..apply modular base approch ..

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