Creeping censorship: Spotflux claims its service is being 'actively blocked' in Pakistan

Published: January 28, 2014

According to the official facebook page of Spotflux, they have collected substantial proof that the government is blocking their datacentres in Pakistan. PHOTO: facebook.com/spotflux

After weeks of user complaints that the free virtual private network (VPN) service Spotflux was not working in Pakistan, the service claimed on Monday that it had proof its datacentres were being actively blocked in Pakistan.

In a message posted on their official facebook page on Monday, Spotflux claimed that they have collected substantial proof that Pakistani authorities were blocking their datacentres.

Today we have collected enough proof that the government of Pakistan is actively blocking our datacenters. We will most likely write a detailed blog post about this in the near future and communicate our findings to relevant media sources. While we will continue to work on a solution to provide access to all regions, please understand that this may take some time. For those of you living in Pakistan: let your voices be heard not to us but to those who seek to oppress your basic human rights.

Spotflux is a New York based start-up that creates tools to protect privacy and security of users while retaining full access to information regardless of their location. However, at the top of their website, Spotflux note that their service is currently unavailable in Pakistan.

Users in Rawalpindi, Wah Cantonment, Lahore, Islamabad, Hyderabad, Peshawar, Karachi, Bahawalpur and Sukkur told The Express Tribune on its Facebook page that they were unable to use Spotflux. The users could not get through the network while using Wi-Tribe, Mobilink, PTCL, Wateen and Qubee internet connections.

Blocked for three weeks

People first started reporting problems with Spotflux in Pakistan on January 7, with more complaints following soon after.

A week later, flooded by complaints, Spotflux said that it was looking into the issue.

For users in Pakistan having trouble connecting to Spotflux: Rest assured we are working on a solution to the problem, but unfortunately we cannot predict when we may have you back up and running.

However, people were still looking for alternatives to access their favourite sites.

VPNs, proxies to by-pass blocks

When YouTube was blocked in Pakistan in September 2012, people turned to using VPN services like ‘Spotflux’ or proxy servers to by-pass the blocks instituted by government and access websites.

In November last year, the Internet Movie Database (IMDb), a widely used online entertainment news portal, was also blocked by the authorities, only to be restored a day later.

A Tribune survey last year had found that over 80% of respondents used a VPN or proxy server to access content blocked in Pakistan.

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Reader Comments (23)

  • Ahmed
    Jan 28, 2014 - 9:25AM

    Spotflux is an ad free VPN service, much more efficient than the more popular Hotspot. What is government’s problem if people want to use proxies for whatever purpose? You have already banned Youtube! People do need Youtube! They ban IMDB, they talk about banning Viber, Youtube already blocked! Just block internet and be done with it! What idiocy and absolute madness enforced on us!

    Recommend

  • izhar Khan
    Jan 28, 2014 - 10:40AM

    Hotspot Shield an other VPN service is not accessible for last 3 days. Hopefully, government will block all VPN services in near future. HTTP Proxies are also not working for some time. Any other solution…?

    Recommend

  • Jan 28, 2014 - 11:52AM

    The more advance technology is getting the more anti privacy activities are being done all over the world.

    Recommend

  • Besharam Khan
    Jan 28, 2014 - 11:53AM

    I am not supporter of YouTube or any other side ban but being responsible citizen i should also abide by the local laws while i found this article promotion of defiance…. Showing ways to access illegal and banned stuff or dodge the govt restrictions can’t be declared responsible journalism…..

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  • S
    Jan 28, 2014 - 12:11PM

    as someone already said, this is not responsible journalism, showing people different ways to break the law. but then again this is tribune

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  • Karim
    Jan 28, 2014 - 12:57PM

    there is a bunch of software clients that you can use to access websites blocked, try Hola internet, tunnel bear, proxpn .. hola internet is a beast.. and there will be always solution to access stuff on internet. the Firewall used in china is know as the Great Firewall of China.. so if you can access facebook from china .. you can for sure access anything you want from Pakistan

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  • R
    Jan 28, 2014 - 12:58PM

    the article on Muhammad (S) on wikipeida has also been blocked

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  • Ahmed
    Jan 28, 2014 - 1:01PM

    @S:
    @Besharam Khan:
    And who said a ban is a law?! Government will force anything on you and you will just say “it is a law, and I am a law abiding citizen, yes, shove it down my throat!”

    Question: Can you be penalized for watching youtube in Pakistan as a citizen? No!
    It is just a ban and nothing more.

    Just beyond ridiculous!

    Recommend

  • Silas
    Jan 28, 2014 - 1:52PM

    I mailed spotflux a month back and they said they were having problems in this region. I thought it was a problem at their end but now PTA is the culprit. Hotspot shield is not working since a few days.

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  • vaqas
    Jan 28, 2014 - 2:09PM

    This article clearly shows that this government has no intention of unblocking youtube, rather they are actively trying to propogate the cause of the oppressive and regressive far right extremists.

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  • mir
    Jan 28, 2014 - 2:09PM

    hotspot shield website is also banned.

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  • M.Faisal
    Jan 28, 2014 - 2:15PM

    Government should take all steps to curb terrorism and terrorist activities in Pakistan. The most important and high priority should be verification off all sims issued and operational from day one to till now then gray trafficking and usage of internet communication methods in anti state acts…
    I wonder that still how people manage to use unverified sims and after 3G 4G how will they monitor those people…

    Recommend

  • Jan 28, 2014 - 3:51PM

    Try duckreader.Recommend

  • fappy
    Jan 28, 2014 - 5:59PM

    Clutching the straws as they say, since our coward and inept rulers cannot control anything else they “try” to control the media and information the easiest thing “BAN IT” and how pathetic it is that they even fail at even controlling that.Recommend

  • just_someone
    Jan 28, 2014 - 6:58PM

    I kept shouting when talk of the first censorship was started that we need to ensure a censor free internet.
    But almost everyone talked about how we need to stop this and that (based on their own personal opinions of what people should do and shouldnt do).
    And now we are here, where websites like IMDB are banned for no reason. Tomorrow they will ban Wikipedia because it has content unsuitable for people and one of the best resources of alleviating lack of education will be taken away.Recommend

  • Ali
    Jan 28, 2014 - 8:58PM

    They also need to ban all biology websites, because when I read them I have loin pain. Recommend

  • tungli
    Jan 28, 2014 - 11:46PM

    who cares..i have another one..govt can do whatever it wantsRecommend

  • Tun
    Jan 29, 2014 - 11:29AM

    @S:
    @Besharam Khan:

    What? :/

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  • Habib Ullah Khan
    Jan 29, 2014 - 5:28PM

    I see no reason for blocking Proxies as VPN is mostly used in Corporate sector … Just Stop the internet service , it would be alot better and every one will be at calm then cause then their wont be any hope :(Recommend

  • Mohsin
    Feb 5, 2014 - 1:06AM

    The Government can do whatever it wants! :p
    I never used Hotspot or Spotflux rather I use premium stuff, they are slow and pathetic.
    Go for the premium stuff, it still works like a charm!

    Recommend

  • Feb 23, 2014 - 6:19AM

    Luckily found a great VPN tool on Android, we can use it: get Fast VPN on android

    Recommend

  • Feb 28, 2014 - 8:05AM

    I used to be more than happy to search out this net-site.I wished to thanks to your time for this glorious learn!! I undoubtedly enjoying every little little bit of it and I have you bookmarked to check out new stuff you blog post.

    Recommend

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