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23 Jul 2019

Ramsha Jahangir, DAWN

Pakistan: Privacy & transparency concerns grow over plans to monitor internet traffic

"Concerns over new govt plans to monitor online traffic", 08 Jun 2019

Given government plans to monitor online traffic, the telecom industry and digital rights advocates have cited various privacy and transparency concerns over the process. The Pakistan Telecommunication Authority (PTA) recently directed the telecom industry to deploy a suitable technical solution for monitoring, analysing and curbing grey traffic. The system would be called Web Monitoring System (WMS) in order to monitor communications for the purposes of national security, measure and record traffic, call data record, and quality of services as specified by the PTA. The regulation under the Monitoring and Reconciliation of International Telephone Traffic Regulations 2010 (MRITT) mandates the monitoring and blocking of any traffic (encrypted or not), including voice and data, originating or terminating in Pakistan. This includes all encrypted VoIP services... The Senate Standing Commi­ttee on Cabinet Secretariat, too, has expressed its concern over PTA signing an agreement for monitoring internet traffic with US-based Sandvine Corporation — which is allegedly working as a partner with Israeli intelligence. Under the agreement, the company would have easy access to all digital information, including WhatsApp... “If followed strictly, the system could legitimise blocking services such as WhatsApp, Facetime and Messenger."... said Wahajus Siraj, member of PM’s Task Force on IT & Telecom...