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2 Mar 2012

Pakistan Govt tender for an internet filtering and blocking system

In February 2012 the Pakistan Government published a public tender for the "development, deployment and operation of a national-level URL filtering and blocking system".  Bolo Bhi, a Pakistan-based NGO, issued a petition calling on eight tech companies not to respond to the tender.  Business & Human Rights Resource Centre invited the companies to respond.

Petition: “Censorship is Big Business – It Should Not Be”, Sana Saleem of Bolo Bhi (Pakistan), Feb 2012

Additional information:

"Press kit: National URL Filtering & Blocking System", Bolo Bhi, 2012 (includes background, campaign timeline)

 "Pakistan Builds Web Wall Out In The Open," Eric Pfanner, New York Times, 2 Mar 2012

Company responses and non-responses 

Websense response: "Say NO to Government Censorship of the Internet in Pakistan"

      - Bolo Bhi: "Thank you Websense, from Pakistan" 

Sandvine response [PDF]

Verizon response [DOC]

Cisco response [DOC]

      - Bolo Bhi: "Thank you Sandvine, Verizon & Cisco, From Pakistan

McAfee (via Twitter): "Update to our followers - McAfee has confirmed that it is not pursuing Pakistan firewall RFP"

Blue Coat Systems reportedly told CNET that it would not bid for the project

Huawei has not responded

Netsweeper has not responded

ZTE (mentioned in Access petition, see below) has not yet responded

Updates since 9 Mar 2012 

Petition by Access Now: "20 Million Silenced?"
  This petition names ZTE in addition to the companies above.  We are in the process of inviting ZTE to respond to the petition and will indicate here whether they respond or not.

"The Global Network Initiative Encourages Companies Not to Respond to Pakistan's Request for Proposals for an Internet Filtering and Blocking System", 12 Mar

"Concern about new bid to censor the Internet", 13 Mar, Human Rights Commission of Pakistan and FIDH

NEW on 19 Mar: "Cautious Celebration: Report Suggests Pakistan IT Ministry Withdraw Internet Censorship Plans", Bolo Bhi

Click here for ongoing developments on Pakistan, freedom of expression and internet firms

Company Responses

Cisco Systems View Response
Huawei Technologies

No Response

McAfee (part of Intel)

No Response


No Response

Sandvine View Response
Verizon View Response