Pakistan installs social media firewall

Government sources said the firewall would apply to all popular platforms (AP photo)

ISLAMABAD: Pakistan has started installing a nationwide firewall system to regulate social media platforms and stop the spread of undesirable content. Government sources said the firewall would apply to all popular platforms like Facebook, YouTube and X.
The firewall, a senior official said, seeks to identify sources of propaganda material, examine data from various internet protocol addresses and limit the content’s visibility.One of the system’s primary functions is keyword filtering, which identifies and hides offensive content.
Additionally, protocols are being developed to oversee Virtual Private Networks (VPNs), which many have employed to evade limitations placed on X, formerly Twitter. Initial restrictions on VPNs drew criticism from the corporate sector, which led the govt to temporarily suspend its implementation.
The X blockade has brought its usage in Pakistan to almost half, from 4.5 million to 2.4 million users. It seems the management of X is gradually adhering to govt directives to block accounts that disseminate fake news, allow conversations on sensitive subjects or circulate contentious ideas.
In April, the home ministry had provided the Islamabad high court a detailed report outlining the rationale for X’s prohibition. The report brought attention to X’s non-registration and its disregard for Pakistani legal requirements.
The report claimed that X’s refusal to comply with Pakistani regulations was the reason for its blocking. It argued that the action did not infringe on fundamental rights.


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