Pakistan bans encryption because of ‘terrorists'

With the tenth anniversary of 9/11 fast approaching, the so-called “war on terror” has taken many forms. From TSA pat-downs, bans of liquid on airplanes, and warrantless wiretaps, it seems that everything governments do is in the name of protecting us from the terrorists. Today the Guardian is reporting that Pakistan's government is banning encryption within the country, specifically targeting Virtual Private Network (VPN) connections.

Pakistan’s section of the internet is setup in such a way that every packet travels through the Pakistan Internet Exchange and is monitored by the Pakistan Telecommunications Authority (PTA), a government agency that is able to examine the network traffic and block access to sites that it deems are inappropriate. As an example, the country recently blocked all access to the social media site Facebook after hearing about a contest on the site that asked participants to draw cartoon sketches of the prophet Muhammad. Up until now people have been using VPNs to bypass the filters, access data, and send private communications, but the PTA is requiring ISPs to report customers who are still using this technology.

Many companies use VPN technology in order to maintain an end-to-end tunnel that can be used to encrypt sensitive data between branch offices, and those connections will fall under this ban. The article says that people can request waivers to this ban, but it is unclear how that process will work and who will be allowed to apply for these exceptions. Shakir Husain, CEO of software company Creative Chaos, put it best when he said, “This is like banning cars because suicide bombers use them.”

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23 Comments

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If there's one thing that the internet has done for society in the best possible way, it's that it has shown how "representative of the people" our governments really are. I'm not just talking about Pakistan either. The UK government is just as guilty, bowing down to pressure from big business at the cost of citizens' privilege

In this case, the Pakistani government is now able to exert an enormous amount of control over citizens' information, since they can see everything that is put on the internet. The question is, how this observation of information is going to be used? Sure it claims it's to protect against "terrorism" (patriot act anyone?), but this kind of control can quickly and easily extend to people criticising the government. Welcome to the top of the slippery slope.

There is just one problem - criminals will use guns and all methods of hiding - doesn't matter what laws exist, because criminals defy law by definition. Basically only law abiding citizens will suffer from this law.

Well, they do have a terrorist problem, and they are still carrying out attacks in the country, so that just may help. And they have been the bigger victim of this war than the US. Lost multiple times more civilians and soldiers.

CheeseFart said,
free wireless anyone?

Yes, because a free wireless connection won't go via the TPA. Let me just quote that again for you.

Pakistan's section of the internet is setup in such a way that every packet travels through the Pakistan Internet Exchange and is monitored by the Pakistan Telecommunications Authority

sagum said,

Yes, because a free wireless connection won't go via the TPA. Let me just quote that again for you.

"Pakistan's government is banning encryption within the country".

Using a password on a wireless connection is encryption, therefore is being banned requiring passwords to be removed.

CheeseFart said,

Using a password on a wireless connection is encryption, therefore is being banned requiring passwords to be removed.

No, no it isn't.
*facepalm*

SalmanPK said,
lol I'll continue to use VPNs and will pretend to be unaware of this if I do get in any trouble >.<

This post might just be what will give your cover away. Consider a deletion!

GS:mac

SalmanPK said,
lol I'll continue to use VPNs and will pretend to be unaware of this if I do get in any trouble >.<

Except all packets go via TPA, so they could just block VPN activity as it happens, and its Pakistan... so won't they just cut your arms off so you can't do it again?

sagum said,

Except all packets go via TPA, so they could just block VPN activity as it happens, and its Pakistan... so won't they just cut your arms off so you can't do it again?

Given how uncivilized that country is, i wouldnt be surprised!

sagum said,

so won't they just cut your arms off so you can't do it again?

Lol....not all muslim states are Saudi Arabia

Somehow I don't think this will make a big difference to the terrorists using VPN's but it will make all the difference to those companies looking to operate and citizens looking to bypass internet filters and access what they desire (as they should). I'd have to agree that this has more to do with controlling the population than terrorism. I wonder if there's some sort of threat of destabilization that they can't stop thanks to VPN's bypassing filters. Either that or they're worried about a Libya-like event playing out on their doorstep with the internet playing a huge role in the uprising.

Tim Dawg said,
Somehow I don't think this will make a big difference to the terrorists using VPN's but it will make all the difference to those companies looking to operate and citizens looking to bypass internet filters and access what they desire (as they should). I'd have to agree that this has more to do with controlling the population than terrorism. I wonder if there's some sort of threat of destabilization that they can't stop thanks to VPN's bypassing filters. Either that or they're worried about a Libya-like event playing out on their doorstep with the internet playing a huge role in the uprising.

Hmm that last point is interesting. Possibly true.

*gets the popcorn out*

This has nothing to do with Terrorism and all to do about control.

It will fail as soon as businesses rebel against it. Some short sighted jobsbody in government who has no idea WHY encryption is important. Wait for the wave of hacking on comanies before a massive u-turn

Unplugged said,
*gets the popcorn out*

This has nothing to do with Terrorism and all to do about control.

It will fail as soon as businesses rebel against it. Some short sighted jobsbody in government who has no idea WHY encryption is important. Wait for the wave of hacking on comanies before a massive u-turn


What control? India did it, Saudia Arab did it, UAE did it. They all asked Blackberry to let them access through their secure servers, and took many other similar steps.

FMH said,

What control? India did it, Saudia Arab did it, UAE did it. They all asked Blackberry to let them access through their secure servers, and took many other similar steps.

What do they all have in common? They all have a high degree of control over their citizens with measures like religious policing and internet filtering. Forcing people to talk on the internet unencrypted gives them the ability to do things like watch for political criticism, and take measures against those that speak out against the government so that their criticism isn't heard, regardless of how legitimate and/or important it is.

Majesticmerc said,

What do they all have in common? They all have a high degree of control over their citizens with measures like religious policing and internet filtering. Forcing people to talk on the internet unencrypted gives them the ability to do things like watch for political criticism, and take measures against those that speak out against the government so that their criticism isn't heard, regardless of how legitimate and/or important it is.

What you said is sad, and true.