20/6/2013: A recent report by Toronto-based independent research group, Citizen Lab, maintains that Netsweeper filtering products have been installed on Pakistan Telecommunication Company Limited (PTCL)’s network. This is an extremely worrying development.
Last year, Bolo Bhi wrote to western surveillance technology companies informing them about human rights violations they will be assisting in if they sell technology to the Pakistan Government. Our partners Business Human Rights Resource Centre wrote letters and followed up with each company to demand a commitment.
Netsweeper was one of the three companies, out of eight, that did not respond to our request. Netsweeper’s apparent decision to allegedly sell the filtering products to Pakistan, despite civil society advocacy groups informing them that the technology will have terrible repercussions for the country, reflects a disregard for civil liberties and fundamental human rights. This is in violation to the United Nation’s Guiding Principles on Business and Human Rights and ignorance of “Know Your Customer” Standards for Sales of Surveillance Equipment.
Previously, a Citizen Lab report revealed the presence of FinFisher servers also on a PTCL network. It is imperative that PTCL, the government of Pakistan and all relevant institutions and authorities inform Pakistani citizens in very clear terms what systems have been procured and what they are being used for. Assuming the role of self-appointed moral custodians of the country’s populace is a violation of democratic principles and must stop. At the same time, democratic countries in the developed world must also look into the role companies in their countries play in helping governments around the world stifle and curtail citizens’ rights.
Bolo Bhi means ‘Speak up’, in Urdu. We are a not-for-profit geared towards advocacy, policy and research in the areas of gender rights, government transparency, legislation, Internet freedom, digital security, privacy and empowerment. We, at Bolo Bhi, believe it is crucial to bridge the gap between rights advocates, policy makers, media and citizens. It is by bridging this gap that one can move ahead to chart a way forward and resolve issues through consensus, in a way that is mutually beneficial.
Previous statements and resources related to URL Filtration & Blocking System:
- Stop Censoring: National URL Filtration & Blocking System Should Not Be Implemented
- FAQs: What is the National URL Filtration & Blocking System?
- Civil Society Against Blanket Ban of The Internet in Pakistan: Stop the Firewall
- Thank you, Sandvine, Verizon &Cisco, From Pakistan