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23 Jul 2019

Usama Khilji

Pakistan: Bolo Bhi calls on govt. to ensure safeguards against abuse of incipient Web Monitoring System

"Internet Surveillance", 22 Jul 2019

Reports of the government installing the Web Monitoring System (WMS) first came to prominence when questions…were raised in the Senate regarding the…company…tasked to supply…technology. The WMS is...being installed by the Pakistan Telecommunications Authority to monitor, analyse and curb grey traffic,… monitoring communications for the purposes of national security, measurement and recording of traffic, call data record, and quality of services… [I]t is an all-encompassing surveillance system of internet traffic... under the pretext of commercial [and] security-related reasons... PTA…clarified that this is not “intended to curtail freedom of use of internet by legitimate users”. [This] merits welcome, [but] concrete steps…remain to be seen... If surveillance is to be carried out to protect national security, there should…be safeguards against the abuse of this process... There has been…confusion about the deployment of Sandvine Inc’s technology.... Senators…raised concerns about the company being based in the US, where data security concerns are legitimate... The PTA [said] security audit [took] place, but the process begs transparency…[I]n 2012, Sandvine was one of the five companies that…confirmed its intent not [bid] for Pakistan’s URL filtration system for censorship, and the company’s stance was celebrated…as…business standing up for human rights..