Content Filtering Timeline

2006- PTA blocks more than a 1000 websites due to SC ruling on blocking of “blasphemous” websites, however more than pornographic or offensive content websites were blocked

February 2006- April 2006: Blogspot Blackout

A website, www.blogspot.com, was censored, which did not receive much publicity; however the accidental ban of this website caused a campaign to be launched to restore it.

March 2006: SC Order on Ban of Blasphemous Websites

The government was directed by the Supreme Court to ban all sites displaying sacrilegious cartoons.

March 2007: Search Engines and News Sources among Websites Blocked due to PTCL fumble

Due to PTCL fumble on censorship, Google, Yahoo, BBC, CCN and many other websites were inaccessible to the citizens of Pakistan

May 2007: Increase in Internet Censorship

A survey of the Pakistani government’s internet filtering systems revealed that the government does indeed censor or block internet content, and has been increasing their censorship over the years.

February 22nd- 26th 2008:  YouTube Blocked

Due to hosting of Geert Wilder’s film “Fitna”, PTA attempted to block Youtube in Pakistan; while they successfully managed to block it in Pakistan, a misconfiguration caused a worldwide blackout of Youtube. This ban was later lifted as Youtube complied with the government to remove this video.

June 4th -15th 2009: Monitoring of VOIP

PTA decision for ISPs to monitor voice traffic, such as Skype, but ISPs urged the decision to be reversed due to high expenditure.

May 31st – June 14th 2010: Facebook banned in Pakistan

PTA blocked Facebook for 2 weeks in response to a competition that encouraged users to post cartoons of Prophet Mohammad (PBUH). While the ban was eventually lifted, those pages remained blocked.

June 2010: Effective Monitoring Policy Guidelines Revealed

Confidential Pakistani document reveals plans for stricter control of the internet and freedom of expression.

November 14th – 21st 2011: PTA Bans 1,695 Words (later revoked)

Mobile phone companies were given a list of words that they had to block from being used over text messages. Companies were threatened with legal action if they didn’t comply; this was revoked later due to public ridicule.

December 19th 2011: Misuse of Electronic Equipment Bill

Rehman Malik formed a committee to examine draft bill regarding any misuse of electronic equipment, including but not limited to, emails, SMS, MMS, in relation to national security activities.

February 24th 2012: Proposals for National Filtering and Blocking System

PTA released a Request for Proposals (RFP) in order to enhance the development, deployment and operations of national filtering and blocking systems.

February 26th 2012: $10 million calculated costs of Filtering Systems

It was calculated that the internet filtering and blocking systems wanted to be developed would cost a total of $10 million.

February 27 2012: Anti-Censorship Campaign

Bolo Bhi launched an anti censorship campaign and reached out to the CEOs of 8 companies asking them to publicly not to comply with the national filtering and blocking systems or apply for any such license.

March 1st 2012: Global Network Initiative (GNI) Statement on Pakistan’s RFP

GNI made it clear that the companies would be going against users’ right to free expression and privacy if they would respond to the RFP.

March 1st 2012: STOP THE FIREWALL

A petition initiated by Bolo Bhi in response to the Ministry of Information Technology’s announcement of RFP for filtering and blocking systems.

March 2nd 2012: Electronic Frontier Foundation on Filtering Software Companies

It was discovered that the censorship regime would enable blocking of 50 million URLS without any delays.

March 2nd 2012: Websense Applauded for Declining Contract of Censorship Parternship

Human Rights First urges companies to follow suit and decline contracts that help develop internet filtering systems.

March 15th 2012: Pledge to NOT Help Pakistan

Companies pledge not to aid the Pakistani government in developing filtering technology.

April 7th 2012: Websense Promises not to Honor Proposal

Websense refuses to respond to any RFP and urges other providers to do the same and protect the rights of the citizens of Pakistan

April 12th 2012: Government Forced to Backtrack Internet Filtering

Anti-censorship campaigns and vocal discontentment of citizens caused the Pakistani government to shelve their plans of developing a national internet filtering system.

April 17th -24th 2012: Sindh High Court Rules in Favor of Citizens.

Bolo Bhi’s petition was successfully received by the Sindh High Court, which called for PTA to stop illegal website censorship.

May 20th 2012: Temporary Twitter Ban

Ministry of Information Technology banned Twitter for a few hours due to Twitters failure to respond to the published blasphemous content. Ban was lifted few hours later.

September 2012: YouTube Blocked in Pakistan

YouTube’s hosting of the video “Innocence of Muslims” caused uproar amongst Muslim countries, which led to it being banned in some, including Pakistan. Along with YouTube, other anti Islamic video websites have been blocked. YouTube is currently still banned.

November 9th 2012: YouTube Ban Review

Interior Minister Rehman Malik forms committee to review the ban on YouTube.

November 11th 2012: Options for Filtering YouTube

Interior Minister Rehman Malik discusses the government’s plan to form a committee that would find a way to filter anti Islamic content on YouTube.

January 28th 2013: No Progress on YouTube issue

May 29th 2013: Potential Ban on Facebook

Peshawar High Court discussed immediate steps with authorities to block “blasphemous material” on Facebook and demand response in 20 days.

June 9th- 13th 2013: Ministry of Information Technology

Anusha Rehman, Minister of IT, tweets about filtration and unlocking YouTube after filtration is done to eliminate the presence of blasphemous and pornographic material in Pakistan.

June 13th 2013: Pakistan Demands Filters on YouTube

Pakistan pushes Google to install filtering systems on YouTube before lifting its ban.

June 20th 2013: Netsweeper Discovered

The Citizens Lab (Toronto based research group ) discovered the installation and use of Netsweeper filtering products at national levels in Pakistan.

2006- PTA blocks more than a 1000 websites due to SC ruling on blocking of “blasphemous” websites, however the ban included more than pornographic or offensive content. The first instances of ‘covert blocking’

February 2006- April 2006: Blogspot Blackout

A website, www.blogspot.com, was censored, which did not receive much publicity; however the accidental ban of this website caused a campaign to be launched to restore it.

March 2006: SC Order on Ban of Blasphemous Websites

The government was directed by the Supreme Court to ban all sites displaying sacrilegious cartoons.

March 2007: Search Engines and News Sources among Websites Blocked due to PTCL fumble

Due to PTCL fumble on censorship, Google, Yahoo, BBC, CCN and many other websites were inaccessible to the citizens of Pakistan

May 2007:  Increase in Internet Censorship & emergence of internet filters – Research

A survey of the Pakistani government’s internet filtering systems revealed that the government does indeed censor or block internet content, and has been increasing their censorship over the years.

February 22nd- 26th 2008:  YouTube Blocked

Due to hosting of Geert Wilder’s film “Fitna”, PTA attempted to block Youtube in Pakistan; while they successfully managed to block it in Pakistan, a misconfiguration caused a worldwide blackout of Youtube. This ban was later lifted as Youtube complied with the government to remove this video.

June 4th -15th 2009: Monitoring of VOIP

PTA decision for ISPs to monitor voice traffic, such as Skype, but ISPs urged the decision to be reversed due to high expenditure.

May 31st – June 14th 2010: Facebook banned in Pakistan

PTA blocked Facebook for 2 weeks in response to a competition that encouraged users to post cartoons of Prophet Mohammad (PBUH). While the ban was eventually lifted, those pages remained blocked.

 June 2010: Effective Monitoring Policy Guidelines Revealed

Confidential Pakistani document reveals plans for stricter control of the internet and freedom of expression.

November 14th – 21st 2011: PTA Bans 1,695 Words (later revoked)

Mobile phone companies were given a list of words that they had to block from being used over text messages. Companies were threatened with legal action if they didn’t comply; this was revoked later due to public ridicule.

December 19th 2011: Misuse of Electronic Equipment Bill

Rehman Malik formed a committee to examine draft bill regarding any misuse of electronic equipment, including but not limited to, emails, SMS, MMS, in relation to national security activities.

February 24th 2012: Proposals for National Filtering and Blocking System

PTA released a Request for Proposals (RFP) in order to enhance the development, deployment and operations of national filtering and blocking systems.

February 26th 2012: $10 million calculated costs of Filtering Systems

It was calculated that the internet filtering and blocking systems wanted to be developed would cost a total of $10 million.

February 27 2012: Civil Society reacts to plans for National URL Filtration & Blocking System 

Bolo Bhi launched an anti censorship campaign and reached out to the CEOs of 8 companies asking them to publicly not to comply with the national filtering and blocking systems or apply for any such license.

March 1st 2012: Global Network Initiative (GNI) Statement on Pakistan’s ational URL Filtration & Blocking System  Plans

GNI made it clear that the companies would be going against users’ right to free expression and privacy if they would respond to the RFP.

March 1st 2012: Stop the Firewall – Uniting to stop the Ministry of IT from buying filters 

A petition initiated by Bolo Bhi in response to the Ministry of Information Technology’s announcement of RFP for filtering and blocking systems.

March 2nd 2012: Electronic Frontier Foundation on Filtering Software Companies

It was discovered that the censorship regime would enable blocking of 50 million URLS without any delays.

March 2nd 2012: Websense Applauded for Declining Contract of Censorship Partnernship

Human Rights First urges companies to follow suit and decline contracts that help develop internet filtering systems.

March 15th 2012:  Call For International Surveillance Companies To Pledge Not  To  Sell To Pakistan

Companies pledge not to aid the Pakistani government in developing filtering technology.

April 7th 2012: Websense Promises not to Honor Proposal

Websense refuses to respond to any RFP and urges other providers to do the same and protect the rights of the citizens of Pakistan

April 12th 2012: Government Forced to Backtrack Internet Filtering

Anti-censorship campaigns and vocal discontentment of citizens caused the Pakistani government to shelve their plans of developing a national internet filtering system.

April 17th -24th 2012: Sindh High Court Rules in Favor of Citizens.

Bolo Bhi’s petition was successfully received by the Sindh High Court, which called for PTA to stop illegal website censorship.

May 20th 2012: Temporary Twitter Ban

Ministry of Information Technology banned Twitter for a few hours due to Twitters failure to respond to the published blasphemous content. Ban was lifted few hours later.

September 2012: YouTube Blocked in Pakistan

YouTube’s hosting of the video “Innocence of Muslims” caused uproar amongst Muslim countries, which led to it being banned in some, including Pakistan. Along with YouTube, other anti Islamic video websites have been blocked. YouTube is currently still banned.

November 9th 2012: YouTube Ban Review

Interior Minister Rehman Malik forms committee to review the ban on YouTube.

November 11th 2012: Options for Filtering YouTube

Interior Minister Rehman Malik discusses the government’s plan to form a committee that would find a way to filter anti Islamic content on YouTube.

January 28th 2013: No Progress on YouTube issue

 May 29th 2013: Potential Ban on Facebook

Peshawar High Court discussed immediate steps with authorities to block “blasphemous material” on Facebook and demand response in 20 days.

June 9th- 13th 2013: Ministry of Information Technology Announces Plans For Filters Before Unblocking Youtube 

Anusha Rehman, Minister of IT, tweets about filtration and unlocking YouTube after filtration is done to eliminate the presence of blasphemous and pornographic material in Pakistan.

June 13th 2013: Pakistan Demands Filters on YouTube

Pakistan pushes Google to install filtering systems on YouTube before lifting its ban.

June 20th 2013: Netsweeper  Filtration Equipment Discovered in Pakistan – Research

The Citizens Lab (Toronto based research group ) discovered the installation and use of Netsweeper filtering products at national levels in Pakistan.