Bytes for All Pakistan and Open Observatory of Network Interference (OONI) conducted a research study by doing random tests incorporating about twenty-two internet service providers (ISPs), the results obtained yielded that more than two-hundred URLs have been blocked in Pakistan.
The research report was launched on Wednesday it covers the data of years 2014 to 2017. As per the report, two-hundred and ten URLs have been blocked in these three years by 22 internet service providers.
Many tests were conducted to confirm the presence of blocked URLs. The tests done were Vanilla Tor, header field manipulation, and HTTP invalid request line.
The research done is part of the study being done in Pakistan and around the world (in more than two hundred nations) to study internet censorship. Bytes and OONI worked together to study the internet censorship in Pakistan via collecting data and analyzing network capacities.
The report mentioned that some URLs were blocked by DNS tampering while others were clear blocked pages.
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Many of the blocked URLs were offensive in terms of the content they had which was mostly related to “Draw [Prophet] Muhammad Day” campaign. The websites ran by national minority groups were blocked to ensure that the geopolitical power may be strengthened, as per the report.
Haroon Baloch one of the report writers mentioned that the results of the research study have greatly focused on the political discords in Pakistan since the start of this year, the time during which the bloggers vanished.
He further added that the web pages or websites could be blocked by reporting directly to the Pakistan Telecommunication Authority (PTA) via an objectionable page or link. And the PTA would respond by asking the ISPs to block the page directly or they would be asked to alter the DNS.
According to the report, “smart filters” were being used by the local ISPs to block web pages instead of blocking the whole site. It was found that the ISPs were restricting access to HTTP version of sites.
Tor network which is specifically used for anonymous web browsing and stuff was majorly accessible even during the testing period.
As per Night Dad of Digital Rights Foundation the filtration technology is not new in Pakistan, there had been a report published earlier about internet gateway exchange and the procedure to use filtration technique and to block sites.
Ms. Dad also added that the restriction and avoidance of electronic crimes act have made it much simpler to censor or block pages and sites. Banning or blocking was not allowed prior the censorship laws which states that anything or content causing harm to national integrity, religion or armed forces could be censored.