Internet activists condemn proposed ban of messaging apps

Published: October 4, 2013
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Bolo Bhi against Sindh government’s proposal to ban messaging apps.  PHOTO: FILE

Bolo Bhi against Sindh government’s proposal to ban messaging apps. PHOTO: FILE

KARACHI: Internet freedom groups and activists have expressed anger and disbelief at the Sindh government’s proposal to ban messaging apps including Skype, Viber and WhatsApp for three months as a security measure.

In a press statement, Bolo Bhi an internet freedom group condemned the proposal, stating that “this is a violation of fundamental rights of citizens and an acceptance from the government that they have failed to uphold law and order by resorting to ad hoc measuring and disrupting communications. Access should not be a victim to national security.”

The government should focus on eliminating terrorism in the province and improving the law and order situation instead of taking away freedom from citizens, Bolo Bhi said.

The President of the Pakistan Software Houses Association for IT & ITES as well as the president of Bolo Bhi Jehan Ara expressed her frustration on Twitter:

She further added:

Digital Rights Foundation Executive Director, Nighat Dad also criticised the proposal:

Ban background

On Thursday The Sindh government decided to ban instant messaging and voice-over-Internet Protocol (VoIP) clients Skype, Viber and other communication networks, including Tango and WhatsApp citing security reasons.

The decision was taken during a meeting between Sindh Chief Minister Qaim Ali Shah and other officials including the additional IG Karachi, DG Rangers and representatives of intelligence agencies.

The same day, Interior Minister Chaudhry Nisar Ali Khan said that the federal government had taken no decision on the Sindh government’s stance of banning Skype, Viber and other communication services in Sindh for three months.

The interior minister while condemning the ban said that he was against the move.

“I will go through the Sindh government’s application in favour of the ban to see how much weight it carries,” he added.

This is not the first time communication has been blocked citing security reasons. In the past year alone, the government blocked cellular services over a dozen times.

There was outrage on Twitter following the announcement, although PPP members defended the proposal. PPP Patron in-Chief Bilawal Bhutto Zardari claimed that only a certain elite class of Sindh, namely Karachi, will be affected and insinuated that they were overreacting.

He also stated that the government has to make some tough decision regarding the law and order situation.

PPP MPA Sharmila Faruqi also thought it was a “small price to pay” if Karachi could be “cleansed of criminals”.

PPP member and former interior minister Rehman Malik had begun the ‘tradition’ of banning communication. He shut down cellular networks for extended periods on important national and religious holidays to ‘ensure the safety of the people’.

Malik was bombarded with criticism on Twitter from irate users over the Sindh government’s last proposal. He defended himself, saying he had no authority anymore. But he did say that the provincial government had no authority to ban apps as only the federal government can institute such bans.
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Reader Comments (18)

  • Salman
    Oct 4, 2013 - 12:06PM

    Dear Burgers :)

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  • Dajjal
    Oct 4, 2013 - 12:20PM

    I don’t know if BBZ is ignorant or hypocritical (or both), but you cant claim to be trying to catch criminals when the leaders of your party pal around with members of PAC (which is a Banned Organizations) and take no action against it… Also, there are better ways to deal with the issue… but then again, being clever at trying to solve problems isnt PPP’s strong point… they are pretty good at making trouble though….

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  • Dani
    Oct 4, 2013 - 12:32PM

    Bilawal Bhutto already knows people uses Tango Skype Viber etc never vote for him and his Feudal party only illiterate poor people who are slaves of PPP feudal lords of interior sindh voted for PPP so he can convincingly Ask people if you don’t like it vote for some1 else.

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  • Anam.khan
    Oct 4, 2013 - 12:33PM

    i definately agree this is 100% right decision to.ban of fb,skype etccc…from my point of it should be ban forever bcz mostly.people use such type of web in wrong way if it is ban then lots of advantage we can see like..people wont use computer maximum.through which they can save their priority time & save electricity as well.

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  • Vishnu Dutta
    Oct 4, 2013 - 12:51PM

    Condemn!!!! What for? It truely shows a burger mentality.

    When constitution was islamised then no one took stand.

    When Ahmadis were declared non muslims then no one took stand.
    when bengalis were executed then no one took stand.
    when army generals threw govt many times over no one took stand.
    when pakistan attacked india to make more enemies in the region then no one took stand
    when youtube and fb were banned then no one took stand.

    now whats the point in condemning a small thing like whatsapp. there is no one left to hear you.

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  • Syeda Jafri
    Oct 4, 2013 - 12:51PM

    Look who is calling our people burgers :)

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  • RA
    Oct 4, 2013 - 1:46PM

    “PPP Patron in-Chief Bilawal Bhutto Zardari claimed that only a certain elite class of Sindh, namely Karachi, will be affected and insinuated that they were overreacting.”

    Somebody ask MR BBZ that if only a certain elite class is using these services, then how will we fight terrorism by banning them? He is admitting that either terrorists don’t use WhatsApp etc, or that terrorists come from the elite class!

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  • MAyOr
    Oct 4, 2013 - 1:50PM

    If we can live without Electricity, Clean Water, Hygienic food & other necessities of life then sure we can live without these applications too. Our governments are always formed to take away never to give away.

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  • Abdul Qadoos
    Oct 4, 2013 - 2:07PM

    Urdu bloggers to observe black day for save social media of Pakistan.

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  • mir mehran
    Oct 4, 2013 - 2:18PM

    sorry mate you can live with out Skype, viber , whatsup , etc but cant live without peace , therefore we should support the govt for the sake of peace . don’t be negative
    .

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  • Khan
    Oct 4, 2013 - 2:53PM

    Check bilawal’s racism against urdu speaking

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  • Ali
    Oct 4, 2013 - 3:58PM

    well if you want to ban it, ban it. let the nation see that what you can do for the protection of Pakistan. you already took away everything then what is the value of skype, viber and whats app. take these too with you.
    on the other hand, you are making publicity news about the launch of 3G network in Pakistan. when there would be nothing to use this 3rd generation network then what would be the advantage of launching this service here???
    try to get our country to straight path through straight means not by lame excuses and limitations.

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  • Rumormonger
    Oct 4, 2013 - 4:13PM

    These “tools of the terrorists” have managed to isolate criminals like Shah-crook Jatoi. These tools have managed to organize demos at teen talwar which were unprecedented in Karachi. Is this what the Sindh govt is afraid of. Their inefficiency being exposed by the social media. Pics of their MPA frolocking around with criminlas!!! Maybe the Sindh govt is foreseeing an upsurge in the wake of the Karachi operation and fearing that some demos may be organized against them….

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  • Jibran
    Oct 4, 2013 - 5:23PM

    Only those messaging services should be allowed which have servers hosted inside the country. And if needed, the state should be able to ask for the data.

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  • Ghostrider
    Oct 4, 2013 - 5:43PM

    @Vishnu Dutta:
    I agree but with one exception…Pakistan never attacked India, India did it twice and we would never raise a voice for India. period

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  • Zara
    Oct 4, 2013 - 6:41PM

    Nothing is more laughable than bilawal zardari calling others as ‘Burgers’. I think Twitter too should be banned to avoid stupidity of bhutto zardari family.

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  • Adnan
    Oct 4, 2013 - 7:59PM

    Thousands of Communication applications and protocols are available on Internet, these terrorist with specific objective can use any of unpopular application. Even a 2nd grade programmer can develop an communication application within a week. How they will block it?

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  • Oct 5, 2013 - 7:21PM

    Terrorist activities in Pakistan has been developed since 14th August, 1947. We must book those agencies,govt department who has developed enemities for Pakistan. All neighbour countries have been made enemy by Govt of Pakistan. Rulers are here in Pakistan for governing and not for residing. Pakistan has been blamed by elite class i.e. Military Ruler, Moulivies and those Zameer Firoush Politicians who have no thought but Paisa wes their iman. It will be better to close all internet facilities at Pakistan. Because internet cafe is being used by poor people. DHA/elite class/ploiticians have installed their internet cafe in their home. TTP has also been developed by Govt. Govt cannot tell truth to the People. Kindly ask those people who have helped AltF hUSSAIN. General Zia and Musharaf are maain supporter of MQM.

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