Nationwide internet monitoring system to be deployed

Using the services of a Canadian company, Pakistan is set to introduce a nationwide internet monitoring system, as leaked by a report published in Coda Story.

On behalf of the Pakistan Telecommunications Authority (PTA), the report details that the web monitoring system will record communications, traffic, and call data across the nation.

The contract, according to Coda, is worth 18.5 billion USD, and was signed in December 2018. Although journalists had questioned the government earlier if Pakistan was seeking to implement some kind of monitoring system, the government denied any such measures - until the Coda Story article forced it to admit that there was indeed an ongoing project set to introduce a surveillance system.

The Canadian firm, named Sandvine, is introducing the technology through a Pakistani company called Inbox Business Technologies.

Other nations, such as China and Iran, use intensive monitoring systems to clamp down on internet political action that is critical of their governments' actions.

The journalists behind the Coda Story read this system as another step in the increasingly repressive political environment within Pakistan. In this year alone, Pakistan dropped 3 ranks on a Press Freedom Index published by Reporters Without Borders, becoming one of the most dangerous countries in the world for journalists.

Pakistan has moved to create a nation-wide internet monitoring system by hiring the services of a company based in Canada, according to a report published by New York-based publication Coda Story.

The firm, named Sandvine, will likely provide equipment for monitoring and analysing all incoming and outgoing internet traffic in the country. Other nations, like China, already use such monitoring systems. 

Also read: After Pakistan, US Congress members also urge India to allow journalists and diplomats in IoK

A report published in The News earlier in May had claimed that the Pakistan Telecommunication Authority (PTA) had directed the telecom industry to deploy a “suitable solution” for monitoring the web. 

The surveillance would analyse and curb “grey traffic” — which inclu­des Voice over Internet Protocol and Virtual Private Networks. Coda Story claims that it viewed a Pakistan government tender for the system last year. 

Also read; Karachi woman arrested on cyber crime charges

The tender invited bids for system “at national level, for identifying and blocking access to any on-line content classified as unlawful under Prevention of Electronic Crimes Act 2016”.

The contract is reportedly worth $18.5 million, according to the New York-based publication. Under the contract, the system would monitor communications, including call data, on behalf of the government.

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