Firewall being installed to filter ‘undesirable’ content from Pakistani internet

The Pakistani government is installing a national firewall across various internet service providers (ISPs) to exert greater control over social media. This firewall will block undesirable content from reaching a wider audience, according to information obtained from four different sources.

A government official confirmed to The News the firewall has already been purchased and is currently being installed and commissioned. While Pakistan has previously used such technology to block websites and social media apps, including the Canada based Netsweeper, this new firewall will be used to inspect information originating from different internet protocol addresses.

The official stated that the national firewall will serve two main purposes: to identify the sources of “propaganda material” and to subsequently block or limit the visibility of those sources.

“The national firewall will serve two purposes: identify the locations from where the propaganda material is being originated and the subsequent blockade or diminished coverage of those accounts,” an official told the report. “But, I think the main focus will remain on locating the source of such propaganda to nip the evil in the bud”.

There will be a keyword filtering system to detect content deemed undesirable or a threat to national security, and such content will likely be hidden from outside users.

This filtering system will be applied to major social media platforms like Facebook, YouTube, and the platform X, formerly known as Twitter.

The government is also preparing to prevent the “misuse” of Virtual Private Networks (VPNs), potentially requiring citizens to inform the Pakistan Telecommunication Authority (PTA) about the VPNs they are using.

The government has already blocked the platform formerly known as Twitter for several months, leading many users to access it through VPNs.

While this prompted some pushback from the corporate community, the government official claimed that the platform’s usage in Pakistan has been cut in half, from 4.5 million to 2.4 million users, and that the platform’s management has become more responsive to government demands, including the blocking of an account belonging to the Pakistan Ex-Servicemen Society.


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