Govt should strike balance between censorship, security: DRF

News Source: The Nation

The NetBlocks internet shutdown observatory project in coordination with the  Digital Rights Foundation has collected evidence of nation-wide internet disruptions throughout Pakistan.

On the afternoon of Saturday 25 November, internet users reported disruptions affecting key social media platforms amid protests. The present investigation seeks to provide an early determination of the extent of those restrictions.

Between 1​6:00​pm​ and ​11:00pm on 25th November 2017​, measurements from 121 unique vantage points distributed through 16 ASNs (Autonomous System Numbers) covering major cities and regions in Pakistan were collected, geolocated and anonymised via the NetBlocks web probe measurement network.

Twitter and Facebook are currently restricted with mobile operators Mobilink, Zong, Telenor, Ufone and fixed providers PTCL, Witribe, Zong​,​ Cybernet​ and Nayatel. ​Our data indicates that YouTube restrictions are only partially implemented, suggesting that many internet users in Pakistan will still be able to access the video streaming service. Availability of other services has not yet been investigated. A control set of international news websites remained reachable, indicating that the restrictions are targeted to suppress social media coverage of the unrest. The restrictions remain in effect at the time of writing.

A summary of the data is available in CSV format for examination and may be used with credit. This report is provided as an early indicator during an ongoing crisis situation; we expect our investigation to be supported by more detailed technical evaluation​.​

Cities specifically found to be affected include Karachi, Lahore, Faisalabad, Rawalpindi, Gujranwala, Islamabad, Quetta and Peshawar while the data suggests the restrictions are in affect nationwide, save for a small number of outliers which appear remain able to access the services.

Digital Rights Foundation demands the suspension of the blanket and nation-wide ban on social media and ​​channels of communication as it does not serve the principles of freedom of expression and proportionality. While the government is well within to take measures to ensure the security of Pakistani citizens, it is important to strike a balancebetween censorship and security .

NetBlocks.org is a global network observatory that monitors Internet shutdowns, network disruptions, and cybersecurity incidents and their relation to politics and conflict in real-time.
Digital Rights Foundation (DRF) is a research and advocacy NGO based in Pakistan that focuses on how ICT can support human rights, democratic processes and digital governance. It works towards a world where all people, and especially women, are able to safely exercise their right of expression.

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