By March 2012, The Pakistani Telecommunication Authority (PTA) may have succeeded in deployment of an Internet URL Filtering and Blocking system unless we, global citizens, along with the people of Pakistan, help prevent this from occurring.
As people become more aware and active globally, governments have begun to attempt to increase online censorship. Online censorship or filtering can be seen as justifiable when it may involve harmful content to children in educational systems. However, to censor or filter Internet usage in any fashion to adults, is in direct violation of constitutions and amendments that exist, against 14 of 30 Universal Human Rights, and the Constitution of Pakistan, as seen in the preamble alone.
America, with help from worldwide activists, citizens, businesses and Internet networks, fought back against two proposed bills SOPA [Stop Online Piracy Act] and PIPA [Protect IP Act] through petitions, calling state and government legislation, with businesses and online networks blacking out their websites in protest.
Internet censorship is the control or suppression of the publishing of, or access to information on the Internet.
The PTA is asking institutions (business, organizations, education, communication, media, etc) to submit a proposal allowing the PTA to block URL’s [universal resource locaters] aligned with The National RCT & RD Fund.
The RCT states the URL blocking will “Transform Pakistan’s economy into a knowledge based economy by promoting efficient, sustainable and effective ICT initiatives through synergic development of industrial and academic resources.”
This is not the first time Pakistan has experienced online censorship in the current Federal Parliamentary System (Executive branch with support of legislation) however, with help, it can very well be the last.
On 24/7, Faisal Kapadia, broadcast journalist, speaks with Sana Saleem, activist/journalist and Yusra Askari, corespondent with NDTV in Part One of “Out of Bounds” on the Firewall Looming in Pakistan. All three explain and address how the government has invited proposals to private and semi-private companies to block 5 to 10 million URLS.
Why is the government doing this?
In Part Two of “Out of Bounds“, Faisal addresses the online community for reaction inside and out of Pakistan as to how this issue is viewed using varied comments from activists, journalists and citizens.
In May of 2011, The Office of the High Commissioner for Human Rights General Assembly in Article A/HRC/17/27 focused on freedom to access online content, access to the physical and technical infrastructure online, the increase in censoring information online, namely through arbitrary blocking or filtering of content, and criminalization of legitimate expression as human rights abuses under the right to freedom of expression and opinion.
Universal access to the Internet is not only freedom of expression and opinion as a human right; it is part of the Constitution of Pakistan. Blocking of URLS will hamper international business inside and out of Pakistan, as well as further damaging the cross border communications already in dire need of repair between people.
Business owners may not be able to promote their services, as well as global access to each business. Media will be hampered immensely due to not being able to access the global online network in order to tell the world what is occurring in Pakistan. Global aid for disaster relief, disease, hunger and medical care will not be able to reach those in need. The world will continue to operate as usual, however, to assume according to the RCT statement aligned with the Government of Pakistan that this filtering is solely to enhance the economy and education of Pakistan is preposterous at most.
On the US State Website after a 2010 visit to China, where the government controls the Internet, President Obama held a meeting with an online component to highlight the importance of the Internet. He defended the right of people to freely access information, and said that the more freely information flows, the stronger societies become. Obama spoke about how access to information helps citizens hold their own governments accountable, generates new ideas, and encourages creativity and entrepreneurship.
In 2011, SOPA and PIPA were introduced to the American public.
Condemnations of this action, along with information regarding this initiative have already begun by: The Electronic Frontier Foundation Civil Society Against Blanket Ban of the Internet and Freedom House.Org.
Censorship, in any form, is to silence.
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