Pakistan Torches National Firewall Plans

Earlier this week, the Pakistani government announced that they were canceling plans to build a national Internet filter similar to China’s “Great Firewall.” The massive firewall would have blocked up to 50 million URLs and, if completed, would have been one of the largest online censorship projects in history. The announcement was made on Monday, March 19, by National Assembly member Bushra Gohar in a statement to The Express Tribune newspaper.

According to Gohar, “Secretary of Information Technology Farooq Ahmed Awan said to me that the URL project has been withdrawn due to the concern shown by various stakeholders.” A formal statement on the project is expected to be issued today–the Pakistani Ministry of Information Technology has neither confirmed nor denied Gohar’s statement as of press time.

Bolo Bhi, a Pakistani free speech advocacy group, fears that the country’s government will now pursue more underhanded methods of Internet censorship. International organizations including Business Human Rights, the Electronic Frontier Foundation, Access Now, and the Global Network Initiative all assisted Pakistani activists in fighting the proposed firewall.

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[Image: Flickr user luca pedrotti]