Pakistan Cyber Force: The need for an Internet Filtration System in Pakistan

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Monday, October 29, 2012

The need for an Internet Filtration System in Pakistan

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Internet filtration system is a system that allows government to control what content an internet-user can view in a particular region. This system constitutes of latest technology computers and software that can block millions of URLs in a matter of few seconds. Pakistan has seen a big jump in the number of internet users over the last five years which has increased their vulnerability to unwanted information. The phrase "unwanted information" will need some elaboration and will be explained later on. Many parents and students have been demanding internet filtration system to be established after complaints of many kids being misled by propaganda machines and other explicit content but what made the authorities think of having one such system was the easy access of users to porn as well as blasphemous content.

Three times in the recent history, Pakistan authorities have blocked websites containing blasphemous content including Facebook, Google, YouTube and few other websites having large number of users. The first move was taken in 2008 when a Danish cartoonist drew few blasphemous cartoons that spurred a layer of anger across the globe among Muslim community. Second action was taken by Pakistan government in May 2010 due to an infamous event "Draw Muhammad Day" taking place on Facebook. Pakistan authorities blocked Facebook, Google and YouTube which forced them to remove such content. While the third move has been taken recently when the government blocked YouTube for featuring a blasphemous movie "Innocence of Muslims".

Though YouTube has been blocked, we have seen how unaffective the current Internet Blocking System of Pakistan is as many people are still able to access YouTube despite the blockade. Moreover, the present blocking system has reduced the internet speed of many users considerably which indicates huge flaws in the existing system and hence it makes the need of new Internet Filtration System more evident. With an Internet Filtration System in place, these flaws can be overcome and users can be provided safe-browsing.

Lets come to the criticism that this system is facing from some factions under the label of "Internet Censorship". Many say that everyone has the right to view anything he wants and hence no one can interfere in anyone's 'personal' matters. Yes, I totally agree to the notion of right of viewing anything in this age of information but no one can give you the right to do wrong. Porn is a wrong and unlawful thing and is considered wrong worldwide. A porn artist will never say that he is doing something right. A parent will never want his child to ruin his life by being addicted to porn. If you give child the 'right' to view porn, then you will also have to give thief the right to steal. Both are crimes and crime is always dealt with iron hand. Every country has a law that stops her citizens from viewing or transmitting pornographic and explicit content. In US for example, you cannot legally view porn till you are less than 18. That's their law and we being an Islamic Republic should have ours. Lets not forget that Google, the most widely used Search Engine has its own in-built filtration system that filters the content for its users.

The next argument that is most commonly used to oppose Internet Filtration System is that government can use it for political gains as well and filter the content that is not according to their agenda. Well, this is totally a different debate. A knife can be used for cutting vegetables as well as for killing someone, that doesn't make the knife anything wrong. We don't want an Internet Filtration System like that of Cuba where if using a government net cafe, you write a keyword that is not allowed, your computer will turn off automatically and you will be issued warning by the state. If a government uses a good thing for their evil designs, that doesn't make that good thing evil. Pressure can be put on government to make a complete legislation to make it clear what content will be blocked. With free judiciary in place, anyone should be able to challenge government for blocking something that is not mentioned in that particular legislation. Where there is a will, there is a way. So this argument becomes merely bogus and the Internet Filtration System cannot be rejected just because a minority is afraid of promulgation of Islamic Laws in Pakistan.
Only a single citizen, Ghazi Muhammad Abdullah has sent PTA, a total of 780,000 URLs containing porn or explicit content but PTA has been able to block only a few thousands. There are also a lot of anti-state elements propagating material against the state which also requires blocking before it reach our children and brainwash them making them useless citizens or a hazard for the society killing its peace. To us the right to view anything is not important, the innocence of our children is. This is the best gift we can give them.
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