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[tor-talk] New Report on Internet Censorship in Pakistan


Today, in collaboration with Bytes for All Pakistan, the Open
Observatory of Network Interference (OONI) published a research report
examining internet censorship in Pakistan over the the last three years.

The report, titled "Internet Censorship in Pakistan: Findings from
2014-2017", is available here:


This study includes an analysis of thousands of network measurements
collected (through the use of OONI Probe) from 22 local vantage points
in Pakistan over the last three years.

We confirm the blocking of 210 URLs in Pakistan. Explicit blockpages
were served for many of those URLs, while others were blocked by means
of DNS tampering.

In many cases, Pakistani ISPs appear to be applying "smart filters",
selectively blocking access to specific webpages hosted on HTTP, rather
than blocking access to entire domains. Overall, we only found ISPs to
be blocking the HTTP version of sites, potentially enabling censorship
circumvention over HTTPS (for sites that support encrypted HTTPS

We found a wide range of different types of sites to be blocked,
including LGBT sites, communication tools, and pornography, amongst others.

Notably, most of the blocked URLs include:

  * Sites hosting content pertaining to the controversial "Everybody
    Draw Mohammed Day"
  * Web proxies

The blocking of sites related to "Draw Mohammed Day" is legally
justified under Pakistan's Penal Code, which prohibits blasphemy.
Similarly, the blocking of other sites (such as pornography and other
sites promoting provocative attire) can be justified under Pakistan's
laws and regulations.

However, we also found the sites of the Baluch and Hazara ethnic
minority groups to be blocked**as well. According to human rights
groups, these minorities have experienced discrimination and abuse by
authorities. These censorship events may be politically motivated.

On a positive note, we found popular communication tools, like WhatsApp
and Facebook Messenger, to be accessible. Quite similarly, the Tor
network was accessible in most networks throughout the testing period.

All data collected from Pakistan is publicly available here:

~ The OONI team.

Maria Xynou
Research and Partnerships Coordinator
Open Observatory of Network Interference (OONI)
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