Murphy the govt. of Pakistan strikes.
I had written earlier on how internet censorship works in Pakistan, and it's useful as a reference.
Keeping this eventuality in mind (this is the second time it's happened now), all my websites are hosted outside Pakistan, so it's only within Pakistan is there a problem accessing them.
There's a discussion at the Wiredpakistan.com forums about the censorship.
Under the recently passed Cyber Crime ordinance, any website, computer, telephone, or just about anything else invented after the Stone Age can be seized without any warrant, and no questions can be asked.
For example, I've heard from PTA that this website is now blocked - one of their emails is quoted below - and legally speaking I can't even ask them why and what for they took this step. Though, of course, I've shot them off an email asking them to explain.
Elections are coming, and as the day approaches, Govt. preparation is getting frantic.Continue reading "This website censored and blocked by the Pakistan Govt"
Some time ago, the government passed a draconian censorship law. However, at that time they had still not read Goebbels guide to propaganda, and mistakenly named it the Censorship bill. There was big hue and cry at the time, and the bill was revoked.
A wounded government, desperate for any and all means of control, finally got around to reading Goebbels, and have reintroduced an ever more draconian censorship law aimed towards turning Pakistan into a police state. What has changed is that it is now called the E-Crimes Bill, and the rubber stamp called parliament is about to pass it into law.
What does it mean? In short, anyone who uses the internet or a cellphone in Pakistan can be jailed at any time for anything at all.Continue reading "Marching towards a police state"
I turned on the TV last night to get a look at the headline news.... and there was no news! Two of the biggest news channels, Geo News and Aaj TV were off the air, and the rest of the news channels were futzing about with everything but local news. Al Jazeera is already telling us about the 50 odd people dead in Baghdad every day, but today was the first time the local news channels kept on talking about Iraq, the Ms. Universe beauty pageant and some minor US officials visit to god knows where.
There is a discussion over at Pakistaniat on the censorship with a lot more detail. On top on all the routine censorship, on June 4th, the govt."also passed a law to make it easier to censor for them":http://www.dawn.com/2007/06/05/top1.htm. The best part of the new censorship law is that they can pass new ones as they see fit on an ad hoc basis. This makes the courts a bit redundant, as now the govt. can do whatever it wants, and just issue new rules to cover up as they go.Continue reading "Censorship"
I've been waiting for this book for the last five years... the author has written bits and pieces of the contents in various articles over the years, but finally the entire book is done. There was a bit of drama at the book launch, which put it on the front page of Dawn.
Now, generally I write about a book after reading it, but this book has been banned in Pakistan! Someone high up to must have read in today's paper about the book launch,and ordered it removed from the shelves today in the morning. Liberty Books, the only major bookstore chain in Pakistan pulled the books from the shelves without selling a copy, while OUP, the publishers in Pakistan sold a few copies in the morning before closing sales. The author's friends and well wishers must have been congratulating her all day long, as the sales of the book around the world are going to shoot up drastically along with the credibility of the book.
It was a interesting time for the book to come out, as while on one hand the Chief Justice's illegal dismissal is putting a spotlight on the many constitutional transgressions by the military, while the book exposes the economic plundering of the country by the military. A second front, so to speak, and no army wants to fight on two fronts at the same time.Continue reading "Military Inc.: Inside Pakistan's Military Economy"
The government in it's infinite wisdom sets up a formal body to censor the internet:
ISLAMABAD, Sept 2: The government on Saturday set up a committee to streamline mechanism for screening and blocking websites offering objectionable contents. "This is the first-ever focused attempt by the government to block offensive websites, warranted because of growing concern among people about indecent content," a senior government official said.
Enlightened moderation means the government will only block those websites not enlightened enough to follow their religious, political, ethical and moral values. Websites promoting fast food and fake medicines are OK, as are spam websites. Sheikh_Chilli wrote over at wiredpakistan that while the IT ministry has failed in all of it's basic tasks, they sprint like crazy to curb our freedom of speech at the drop of a hat. One individual, some egg-head bureaucrat sitting in a ministry, is now going to decide what info the 160 million Pakistanis can, or cannot see.Continue reading "Body set up to block websites"
From the introduction: ...Pakistan remains attracted to control and censorship. Omnipresent military secret services continue to harass investigative journalists, while the Urdu-language press is closely watched. Under an onslaught from the Jihadists, the president, Gen. Pervez Musharraf, has stepped up pressure on the most radical media.At the same time he has closed an FM radio accused of relaying a BBC World Service Programme on last October's earthquake.
Download the complete report: Reporters WIthout Borders: Freedom of the Press Worldwide in 2006. The page on Pakistan is excerpted below:Continue reading "Reporters Without Borders: Freedom of the Press in 2006"
The following is a report from August 2001 by the Ministry of Science & Technology regarding the feasibility of internet censorship in Pakistan.Continue reading "2001 Report on Internet Content Filtering"
A conference of Asian bloggers, podcasters and online news providers about free expression in Asian cyberspace, and the challanges thereof. Pakistan is also represented in this forum.Continue reading "Free Expression in Asian Cyberspace"
On March 2nd 2006 the Supreme Court of Pakistan ordered the Pakistan Telecommunications Authority to block 12 websites. This list was in addition to the hundreds of thousands of websites which Pakistan already blocks. Up till now, most internet users in Pakistan had never really cared to speak up about this censorship, but this new blacklist caused millions of personal websites hosted at Blogspot to be banned. There are hundreds of Pakistani websites hosted at Blogspot, so this action by the government led internet users to form an action group against this ban.Continue reading "Internet Censorship the Pakistani way"
Increasingly, states are adopting practices aimed at regulating and controlling the Internet as it passes through their borders. Seeking to assert information sovereignty over their cyber-territory, governments are implementing Internet content filtering technology at the national level. The implementation of national filtering is most often conducted in secrecy and lacks openness, transparency, and accountability. Policy-makers are seemingly unaware of significant unintended consequences, such as the blocking of content that was never intended to be blocked. Once a national filtering system is in place, governments may be tempted to use it as a tool of political censorship or as a technological "quick fix" to problems that stem from larger social and political issues. As non-transparent filtering practices meld into forms of censorship the effect on democratic practices and the open character of the Internet are discernible. States are increasingly using Internet filtering to control the environment of political speech in fundamental opposition to civil liberties, freedom of speech, and free expression. The consequences of political filtering directly impact democratic practices and can be considered a violation of human rights.
>> Click here for the complete article
Required reading for anyone using the Internet - especially in those countries which attempt to censor the Internet. In Pakistan, the governments stated aims are to filter out pornographic and blasphemous content. However, the national filtering system is being used to silence criticism and control political speech online.
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