According to local media reports, Pakistani authorities have recently issued demands for Internet service providers to block Internet users from trying to conceal their identities.
The directive provided to local media by some Islamabad-based broadband provider revealed that the Pakistan Telecommunication Authority has issued notice saying that use of VPNs (virtual private networks) should not be allowed. The provided notice claimed that all similar mechanisms, including EVPNs (encrypted virtual private networks), able to hide communication to the extent prohibiting monitoring must be clamped down. Meanwhile, the Pakistan Telecommunication Authority claimed that this action was in line with earlier regulations for national security, which hadn’t been adequately supported thus far. Nevertheless, it now seems that ordinary citizen’s privacy will suffer in the crossfire.
The authority’s representative said that the directive in question was purely to help curb militants from using virtual private networks in order to hide their identities. In other words, the majority of the public would now be prevented from communicating securely via VPNs. The action came as Pakistan continued to push stricter state security controls over web usage, for example, wantonly banning all sorts of “offensive” services.
US-based website Rolling Stone, for instance, has been blocked since the middle of summer. Although it wasn’t explained what harm could hearing about Beyonce’s pregnancy do to the country’s security, the entire website has been blocked after just a single posting.
Meanwhile, the Pakistan Telecommunication Authority claimed they didn’t know why the website had been blocked. At the same time, the Islamabad-based Internet service provider explained that the site was down due to one offending article entitled “Pakistan’s insane military spending up there with US’s”. That’s what led to a notice to remove the article and everything else from the site. The article in question cited a column published in the New York Times, where Pakistani military was questioned about spending. By the way, for some reason the New York Times wasn’t affected due to this story. Unfortunately for the Internet service providers and Rolling Stone’s readers, it wasn’t possible to block certain links on the site, so the entire domain has now been taken offline.