Getting around the BlackBerry browsing quagmire

Many local BlackBerry users are finding ways around the PTA browsing blockage with assistance from telecom companies.

Omair Zeeshan January 07, 2011
Getting around the BlackBerry browsing quagmire

KARACHI: BlackBerry users in Pakistan continue to face difficulties in web browsing and connectivity due to the Pakistan Telecommunication Authority’s (PTA) instructions to telecom companies which call for blocking access to blasphemous content following the now-lifted ban on Facebook.

However, many BlackBerry users are finding ways around the continuing blockage with assistance from telecom companies.

Every mobile operator has allowed and encouraged users to install a separate browser on BlackBerry sets which allows internet browsing and renders the PTA blockage redundant.

A customer service official at a leading telecom company explained that, “The Pakistan Telecommunication Authority’s instructions only apply to the default web browser”.

One of the service providers has their own home brew Wireless Application Protocol browser which allows you to browse the internet free of the PTA’s restrictions. Instructions are provided by call centre agents, who help users download the program and help configure it for online browsing.

Another telecom company sends their BlackBerry users an email with a link to Opera Mini — an online browser available for free — complete with instructions on how to configure it properly. While many users face difficulties setting up applications which require web connectivity, assistance and support for individual applications is also provided by the mobile operators.

Despite this assistance, Aleem Bawany, General Manager of Online Strategy and Development, Express Media Group says, “You cannot censor the internet but you can make it inconvenient for a majority of the people. Those who would be willing to go configure their devices to bypass the regulatory framework put in place by the PTA are by and large an edge-case scenario. Most people will either not expect that the company’s tech support will help them bypass the PTA or they will not be willing to go through the hassle once they hear a voice-over tell them that it is illegal.”

“The irony of the situation is that the mobile carriers theoretically could block specific websites if they wanted, though it would be very expensive,” Bawany adds.

When contacted by The Express Tribune, PTA officials did not comment on the current dilemma posed by their instructions but stated that, “PTA, on the directions of the High Court and as per the decision taken by the Ministry of IT and Telecom, directed ISPs and mobile operators to block access to blasphemous content on sites mentioned in the directive. Accordingly it was done by the operators.”

Published in The Express Tribune, January 2nd, 2011.


S. Saad Hayat Tamman | 13 years ago | Reply You forgot that we cant even use applications, such as DICTIONARY.COM which are sooooooo abusive and derogatory to PAKISTAN AND ISLAM haha anyhow, y'd it take so long for the press to cover. i think ive wasted 10000 plus over the past the months just for the blackberry messenger!
Ahmed | 13 years ago | Reply Did anyone else notice the irony that the same social media outlet is being used to praise Mumtaz Qadri which was bashed just months ago for hosting blasphemous content. So I guess we are now calling for a truce with Mark Zuckerberg.
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