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Global NGOs Demand Pakistan Drop Censorship Plans

Joining NGOs from around the world, CDT has signed a letter calling on the Pakistani government to officially withdraw plans to outfit its cities’ Internet infrastructure with censorship equipment.

Two weeks ago, we wrote that Farooq Ahmed Awan, a member of the lower house of Pakistan’s Parliament, told the International Tribune that the Pakistan government had abandoned its newest censorship project: a proposed filtering system that would be capable of blocking 50 million URLs at a time. Awan’s statement came shortly after five global companies announced they would not bid on a contract to help the Pakistani government with the massive filtering project.

While Awan’s assurances to the press were a promising sign, they have not been followed by any official words from the Pakistani government. Recognizing that the fight may not be over, Pakistani NGO Bolo Bhi brought together CDT, Access Now, ARTICLE 19, EFF, Citizen Lab, Global Voices Advocacy, Index on Censorship, and Reporters Without Borders to sign a letter urging the Pakistani government to stand up for free expression and economic growth and officially put this plan to rest. Other organizations that are interested in signing the letter can find out how to do so here.

Civil society, from Islamabad to Washington, must remain vigilant until Pakistan’s Ministry of Information Technology makes an official announcement that its plans to filter the Internet have been shuttered for good.