PTA to deploy “national firewall” to block sensitive content in Pakistan

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Even without a chairman, PTA (Pakistan Telecommunication Authority) is still in action to make things better. Recently, it has been reported that PTA is scheming to develop a national level firewall system to block the access of objectionable online content or websites. The project is titled as “WMS (Web Management Solution)” and the proposal request for the system development has been already been issued.

PTA is in search for interested parties that can establish WMS through the hardware, middleware, and software so that it could identify and prevent the access of the internet content and websites that are considered unlawful under Pakistan Electronic Crime Act (PECA). Speaking of the illegal content, the following will not be allowed to access by the country’s public:

    • Blasphemy
    • Pornography
    • Immoral content
    • Contempt of court
    • Anti-State
    • Law and order
    • Incitement to an offense
    • Sectarian
    • Others stated as unlawful by PECA

Moving to the WMS functionalities, the system is required to restrict the delivery of unlawful content in such a way that only that particular content gets filtered out, while the rest of content on the website/domain/server stays accessible as before. The firewall is schemed to work like a ‘crawler’ – a program that browses the WWW (World Wide Web) in a systematic manner and with its self-learning algorithms it detects and classifies the sensitive material online.

Furthermore, the firewall is planned to do real-time traffic analysis to automatically recognize the objectionable content and obstruct it for the public viewership. It would also incorporate an ability to identify the IP addresses of the users who are trying to gain access to the illegal content and then display them warnings. It would be able to generate reports related to the identification and blocking as well, along with the countrywide statistics about the websites (i.e. number of times being accessed; the number of sessions etc.).

Alongside, PTA has planned to train designated Human Resource staff for handling the hardware and software operations of WMS. You can get more details about the project from this attachment.

Interestingly, this is not the first time that the government planned to establish a firewall at the national level. In 2012, the government decided to develop a National URL Blocking and Filtering System. However, for some reasons it faced quite a backlash from the internet and the human rights association that ultimately led to the termination of the project.

As aforementioned, PTA still needs to find the service providers that would develop the whole system with the required functionalities. The moment they find the team, the national firewall’s development will start off.

For more on PTA and technology, stick with Us.

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