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Pakistan’s list of blocked websites swells

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Posted by on Friday, May 21, 2010, 19:04
This news item was posted in Breaking News, Technology category and has 12 Comments so far .

A list of over 370 websites that the Pakistan Telecommunication Authority (PTA) has asked ISPs to blocked, while PTA spokesperson Khurram Mehran has confirmed that the total number of blocked sites has reached 1,000. As of Friday, the list contains addresses of 242 proxy servers used to bypass banned websites, as well as at least two Twitter accounts, several news stories (including those published by Fox News and Washington Post) and multiple blogs (hosted by Blogger and WordPress), nine Wikipedia pages and 15 Google Image results. Additionally, some Flickr accounts are also included in the list.

Facebook Banned

Facebook Banned

The vast majority of websites are all related to the “Draw Muhammad Day” controversy and news reports or opinion pieces on the issue. The blocked Twitter accounts are those containing the name of the Prophet Muhammad (PBUH).

When asked whether Twitter, Google and Gmail had been blocked, given that a number of internet users had reported seeing Access Denied messages when trying to use these websites, Mehran clarified that:

“The two websites that have been blocked are Facebook and YouTube, and only specific objectionable content has been blocked from other websites. These websites are working and have not been blocked. These users should lodge complaints with their ISP.”

However, according to Aleem Bawany, GM, Online Strategy & Development, Express Media Group:

“All websites on the Internet are identified by a web-address such as The URL merely serves to provide a user-friendly way or identifying a website. Machines then translate these friendly web-addresses into IP numbers. The Pakistan Internet Exchange (PIE) setup with the primary purpose of blocking websites uses an IP-based filtering approach to block websites.

This basically means that it can only block entire web domains such as and it does not yet have the capability to block just individual links such as

The ramifications of this are that users are denied access to the entire website because of just a single offending page on that website as is the case with Facebook.”

The devil is in the details:

All traffic in Pakistan goes through a single gatekeeper: Pakistan Internet Exchange or PIE for short. PIE has the ability to only block any given site within a matter of minutes but it also has the ability to eavesdrop on any Internet user in Pakistan.

Freedom of Speech evangelists will tell you that the Internet cannot be censored. Once news breaks on the Internet it can never be taken off. This is because of the decentralized nature of the Internet. Hundreds of websites will run the same news story, images or videos. Trying to plug each one is an exercise in futility.

But each time there is any form of centralized command-and-control, freedom of speech and the Internet’s model in general are compromised. PIE is a centralized authority setup with the primary purpose of Internet censorship.

The reason PIE can censor Facebook so easily as it did is owed to two facts:

1. large sites are centralized even though the Internet at large is decentralized. There is only one Facebook and blocking that single Facebook is a matter of adding one website to the blacklist.

2. PIE monitors each and every single website request originating out of Pakistan because the current infrastructure in Pakistan is setup to route all traffic through PIE’s computers.

The latter is much scarier than it sounds:

PIE has the ability to monitor any single person at any given time and see what they are searching, emailing, browsing and downloading. This can be done over a matter of days, months or even years. PIE can do this for an entire household, an entire corporation or even a town. And they can do this very easily because it’s all software driven.

But the full picture is scarier still:

In the past the Pakistani government has not made any secret of the fact that it tried to outsource the task of PIE to Malyasian IT companies. PIE itself is a single point of failure and if it goes down, all Internet traffic out of Pakistan would be stalled. And there have been incidences in the past where PIE has even been the victim of hacker attacks from India and still continues to be a target for spying adversaries.

It is only a matter of time before PIE is compromised and everyone in the country along with it. And for all it’s worth, it may still be silently compromised.

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12 Responses to “Pakistan’s list of blocked websites swells”

  1. tehreem shoaib
    2010.05.22 16:23

    youtube is not good but facebook is very very very bad i also wanna to delete id from facebook but youtube and other 1000 websites has not to be blocked bx it is best for video searching in the world.

  2. tehreem shoaib
    2010.05.22 16:24

    Hey  they hv to so just only block facebook not youtube or other 1000 websites beacuse youtube is very useful in finding informative videos and we can see our missing episodes of show very fastly.

    2010.05.23 17:04


  4. Faisal
    2010.05.23 17:56

    I support Pakistan for banning facebook and youtube, Both of these website always support anti-Islamic and anti-Pakistan propaganda, I have used facebook and youtube and I know whats going on there. If you upload a video which is Anti-Islamic and anti-Pakistani, it gets hundreds of thousands of views in a week, but if you upload a video saying something good about Pakistan or Islam, even after a year it views hardly reach to a few thousands because of the proxy settin of youtube. And if you say something against America or the war in Iraq or Afghanistan, if you say anything against Israel, you are deleted from youtube, I have been deleted from youtube three time. So I support Pakistan for banning those websites, and shame on those Muslims and Pakistanis would still use youtube and facebook.

  5. umer
    2010.05.23 17:59

    hey i love the ourt,s decision
    i am the tenthperson to know about the draw muhammad day page

  6. Fakhir
    2010.05.25 02:16

    Go Government go ban everything, Yea BAN EVERY THING for the sake of spying on your own people. GO ahead ban everything. USE shortcuts. we are already 100 years behind take us 500 years behind, who cares, who fuckin cares. And this PIE thing any ediot will know that its sole purpose is just to spy on our own people 👿

  7. Mustafa Sandhu
    2010.12.24 12:52

    plzzzzzzzzzz peaple delete acount from facebook

    per koun medea ko samjaye ga k face book chor dey har fm wala facebook per hai in loghoon ko koi sharm nai ati

  8. YouTube Accounts
    2012.06.08 14:05

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  9. Wajahat
    2012.09.16 08:34

    it is shame for us to use facebook and many other anti-Islam website. some people complain that these sites must not be banned.i ask one thing from them if there parents are insulted and being abused by the western media on the facebook and you tube,  will they still watch and use these sites knowing that this is happen? is that the love of our Beloved Prophet Muhammad S.A.W.W did not have any value for them? ? ? 
    you don’t know what these pig eater and shit eater blasphemer westerns and Americans are doing with Holy Quran and Islam. these are not your friends,not they support  any Muslim neither Islam.
    the contain hate and  shit into their hearts. may they Rot in hell.amen
    so why the people support the decision that the Court to Block these biased web sites containing Shit. we must have to think about it. so think as a Muslim and think Positively the less thing is to keep your mouth shut upon this good decisions so that the non-Muslim think you are not supporting him.

    2013.07.20 17:05

    Now I am going away to do my breakfast, afterward having my breakfast coming again to read additional news.

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