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Updated: Pakistan Bans All Internet Usage That Can’t Be Monitored; Is India Next?

The Pakistan Telecommunication Authority has issued a directive to ISPs in the country, prohibiting “all such mechanisms including encrypted virtual private networks (EVPNs) which conceal communication to the extent that prohibits monitoring,” reports The Express Tribune. The notice, quoted in the report, specifically mentions the prohibition of encrypted virtual private networks (EVPNs) “which conceal communication to the extent that prohibits monitoring.” A spokesperson quoted in that report cites security concerns, and says that the idea is to prevent militants from using secure Internet connections. It also cites instances of blocking of websites.

All Too Familiar: Will India Follow Suit?

Asking for encrypted communications to be stopped because they need to be monitored, websites being blocked – it sounds quite like what is happening in India. Video calls were initially not allowed to be launched because they couldn’t be intercepted in real-time and Blackberry has been trying for a very long time to end the impasse with the Indian government on the blocking of its email services. There have been calls for services like Skype and Google Talk to be banned, and for Facebook and Twitter to be monitored by India’s home ministry. Speaking of India’s Home Ministry – it has pushed through draconian IT Rules in India, and is setting up systems to monitor Voice Calls, SMS & MMS, GPRS and FAX communications on Landlines (PSTN), CDMA and GSM networks, apart from monitoring an individuals location, down to an accuracy of 50 meters.

Apart from that, like Pakistan’s blocking of content on the web, India too is blocking access to specific pages, sometimes to  forums and groups on social networks, at times entire websites, and even search results. India’s Internet Control Rules, currently tabled in Parliament, are a step towards increasing regulation of the Internet.

Indian Home Ministry Wants VoIP Calls & Social Networking Monitored in Kashmir

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Update: The Union Home Ministry has asked telecom operators in the Kashmir valley to monitor all communications on the Internet and social networking sites on real-time basis, reports The Hindu Businessline. The publication has cited Ministry sources to report that all service operators in the valley have been asked to ensure that communications taking place over their networks either through Voice Over Internet Protocol (VoIP) or on social networking sites should be available for monitoring by the security agencies.

VoIP Networks Banned In India?

We received a scan of a list of Internet Telephony Service Providers (ITSP’s), via an ISP source, that we are told were banned in India last year.

Last week, MediaNama filed a Right To Information request with the Department of Telecommunications, requesting all notifications regarding Internet Telephony/VoIP that have been sent to ISPs.

We’ve also asked for a copy of the applicable VoIP policy, since there appears to be much confusion in the industry, given that there is no clarity on whether TRAI recommendations have been implemented.

More when we get a response.

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Written By

Founder @ MediaNama. TED Fellow. Asia21 Fellow @ Asia Society. Co-founder SaveTheInternet.in and Internet Freedom Foundation. Advisory board @ CyberBRICS

MediaNama’s mission is to help build a digital ecosystem which is open, fair, global and competitive.

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