Internet in Pakistan is 'not free': Report

Published: September 25, 2012
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Pakistan observed to ban information communication technology, according to the report.

Pakistan observed to ban information communication technology, according to the report.

WASHINGTON: Government restrictions on the Internet in Pakistan have risen over the past year with some use of violence against bloggers and turn to censorship and arrest to squelch calls for reform, a new report from a US advocacy group has found.

Pakistan, Bahrain and Ethiopia saw the biggest rollbacks in Internet freedom since January 2011 and were among the 20 countries out of 47 assessed by Freedom House that declined in their rankings.

The report, which gave Pakistan a internet freedom score of 63, and the status of not free, notes that the country bans virtual private networks, shuts down information communication technology nationwide and has a record of arresting bloggers and users for political writing and their deaths in captivity.

In contrast Tunisia, Libya and Burma, all countries that have seen dramatic political opening or regime changes, improved over previous years along with 14 other countries, the US group, which advocates democracy and open societies, said.

The report was released the day that Vietnam handed out stiff jail terms to three high-profile bloggers for their bold criticism of government handling of land rights issues and corruption.

Estonia topped the list of countries for freedom of the Internet with the United States in second place, according to the Freedom House report. The rankings were based on obstacles to Internet access, limits on content and violations of user rights.

Estonia has a highly developed online culture that includes online voting and access to electronic medical records and some of the lightest content restrictions in the world, the report found. The United States has fallen behind in Internet speed and cost and broadband availability.

Methods for controlling free speech on digital media also have grown more sophisticated and diverse the past year.

Governments have passed new restrictive laws in 19 states. In Iran, censors have improved software for filtering content and hacked digital certificates.

In 14 countries the governments have followed China’s lead in hiring armies of commentators to manipulate online discussions, the authors said.

“As authoritarian rulers see that blocked websites and high-profile arrests draw local and international condemnation, they are turning to murkier – but no less dangerous – methods for controlling online conversations,” said Sanja Kelly, project director for Freedom on the Net.

Other findings include:

* Physical attacks against government critics are intensifying: In 19 of the 47 countries assessed, a blogger or user of information technologies was tortured, disappeared, beaten, or brutally assaulted for their online posts. In five countries, an activist or citizen journalist was killed after posting information that exposed human rights abuses

* Bloggers and ordinary users increasingly face arrest for political speech on the web: In 26 of the 47 countries, including several democratic states, at least one blogger or Internet user was arrested for content posted online or sent via text message.

* Surveillance has increased with few checks on abuse in 12 of the 47 countries examined

* Citizen pushback has increased and had an impact in 23 countries. Advocacy campaigns, mass demonstrations, website blackouts and constitutional court decisions have resulted in censorship plans being shelved, harmful legislation being overturned and jailed activists being released.

The report covered the period from January 2011 to May 2012 and is its third on Internet freedom, based on information from researchers mostly based in the 47 countries.

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Reader Comments (17)

  • MJ
    Sep 25, 2012 - 1:32AM

    Im living in Istanbul Turkey and believe me there is more internet freedom in Pakistan than here.

    Recommend

  • Sep 25, 2012 - 1:35AM

    This is too false.

    Nothing like this in Pakistan, no action have been taken against any blogger, if there was post it.

    You should not tag Pakistan with such reports out of the way.

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  • anwar
    Sep 25, 2012 - 7:08AM

    Pakistan -Its not a bad country to live in except for the noisy loudspeakers everywhere. Internet is relatively free as well.

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  • ali
    Sep 25, 2012 - 7:59AM

    Freedom my foot !!

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  • Hassan
    Sep 25, 2012 - 8:52AM

    who cares about your report.

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  • Kaleem
    Sep 25, 2012 - 9:01AM

    There is no freedom at all. PTA instead of blocking Youtube specific URLs, blocked most of google services including google docs, also youtube ban issue could peacefully be resolved with Google. I suspect the cases of moral policing will rise in next few years with right wingers in govt.Recommend

  • salman
    Sep 25, 2012 - 9:58AM

    Another sign we are slipping (or have slipped) into the middle ages.

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  • enlighten moderate
    Sep 25, 2012 - 10:38AM

    In Pakistan , Nobody blocks the torrent sites atleast. All my foreign friends depend on me to get the torrent file.Means freedom to me.Recommend

  • Noor
    Sep 25, 2012 - 11:18AM

    As a blogger I have never faced any issues despite of posting almost everyday against the government on “sensitive issues”. I think it is unfair to bundle Pakistan with the rest in this way. Objective criticism should always be welcome, for betterment of the society.

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  • Raja Poras
    Sep 25, 2012 - 12:31PM

    Damn right its not free, we pay for it :-)

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  • Zaigham
    Sep 25, 2012 - 2:38PM

    Are they talking about Pakistan, unbelievably false report

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  • Turbo Lover
    Sep 25, 2012 - 3:17PM

    Bring in the VPNs!

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  • Fahim
    Sep 25, 2012 - 4:28PM

    When there is a power of freedom then there are rules. Freedom without rules is similar like I have freedom to bang you,Recommend

  • Gran
    Sep 29, 2012 - 7:14PM

    I am from Pakistan and must say that this report is false altogetherRecommend

  • rose
    Oct 3, 2012 - 11:18PM

    We have far more freedom for internet here in pakistan than canada,usa and many european countries,,that i am 100% sure of!!!

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  • M.Ahmer Ali
    Oct 6, 2012 - 10:44AM

    If blocking the US’ and other countries’ porn websites is called and declared as “internet-in-pakistan-is-not-free” then I strongly and fully accept,appreciate and admire this statement “internet-in-pakistan-is-not-free” wholeheartedly and welcome this Pakistani government’s step/measure and pay tribute and homage to Pakistani government on doing so and demand that Pakistani government must has to continue to do so in the future also……

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  • mc duffy
    Oct 7, 2012 - 1:20PM

    good bye future! and hello era of oppression…

    Recommend

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