Pakistan tightens net security with VPN clampdown

Pakistani authorities have issued demands for ISPs to block internet users from attempting to hide their identities.

According to a directive handed to The Express Tribune by an Islamabad-based ISP, the Pakistan Telecommunication Authority has given notice that use of virtual private networks should be prohibited.

The notice stated that “all such mechanisms including encrypted virtual private networks (EVPNs)” which can “conceal communication to the extent that prohibits monitoring” should be clamped down.

The PTA claims that the move is in line with previous regulations for national security, which up to this point had not been adequately supported.  It seems that ordinary citizens privacy will be hit in the crossfire however.

A spokesperson for the authority explained that the directive was purely to help curb militants using from using VPNs to mask their identities.

Of course this means that the vast majority of the public will now be prevented from communicating anonymously via VPNs.

The move comes as Pakistan continues to push tighter state security controls over internet usage.  This has seen the PTA wantonly blocking all manner of ‘offensive’ websites.

US mag Rolling Stone, has been blocked since July.  Quite what harm hearing about Beyonce’s pregnancy or Lil Wayne’s latest escapades are doing to state security are unclear, but the whole site has been blocked following one posting.

The PTA admitted that it did not know why the site had been blocked, but the Islamabad-based ISP claimed it was down to one offending article.

Apparently one posting entitled ‘Pakistan’s insane military spending up there with America’s’ led to a notice to remove the story.

The story quoted a column written in the New York Times which questioned Pakistani military spending when more was needed to fight militants.

Unfortunately for the ISP, and for a Rolling Stone readers in the area, it is not possible to block specific URLs on websites and so the whole domain has now been taken down.