Don’t Block the Blog

Speaking up Against Internet Censorship, the world over

February 24, 2008

Blasphemous YouTube video removed due to TOS violation

We have just been informed that the blasphemous youtube video has been removed from the youtube servers for violating the Terms and conditions of Youtube, this video had been the cause of censorship of the entire youtube domain in Pakistan as enforced by the Pakistan Telecommunication Authority

I hope this development can convince the PTA to unblock the domain on an urgent.basis while at the same time I hope it also does not serve as an example for PTA to not use this drastic domain-wide censorship in an attempt to block offending content hoping that resultant outcry from the citizens of Pakistan will help force a solution on a global lever – we consider ourselves lucky this time around but might not so fortunate if such a situation were to come again

Note: As of filing of this post and the follow up on Sunday evening (2300 PST) the block still exists and it has not be removed, we that the start of the week can bring us some good news

February 24, 2008

TWA Internet backbone blocks only Blasphemous video URL

youtube unblocked in Pakistan on TWAYesterday all Internet users in Pakistan were up in arms protesting the sudden censorship of the entire Youtube.com domain. A number of theories circulated which ranged from vote rigging videos to the cartoon video containing the blasphemous images disgracing our Prophet Muhammad (PBUH).

Pakistan Telecommunication Authority the appointed monitoring agency had issued a notification blocking a specific URL and a bunch of IP addresses, which belonged to the youtube.com domain. Since yesterday we all witnessed a domain wide blockade of all content from youtube.com and we generally had confirmed reports that this existed throughout out the country, only today did a kind gentleman shared with us screen captures of his computer showing the unblocked youtube website but the specific offending URL is censored from all TWA users. A bit of history all ISP’s in Pakistan connect through the FLAG backbone via the PTCL/PIE link but some ISP’s choose to go via the other bandwidth hub coming via TransWorld.

youtube unblocked in Pakistan on TWA.JPGPIE sadly does not have the ability to enforce a URL specific block and is forced to employ an IP wide block hence we say the entire Youtube domain off limits to us, while TWA with its advanced filtering system can specifically block URL’s

Screen captures courtesy Abdul Sami Azeemi who connects via a local cable connection onto the TWA network. Coming in with this information we could only suggest the Google/Youtube to remove this offensive hate spurring video while at the same time a strong condemnation to the Pakistani government to have resorted to censorship as their first line of defense. It seems illogical that they would hinder their own people in using one very important tool of the modern era.

February 22, 2008

Youtube Blocked in Pakistan

Just in – Youtube seems to have been blocked in Pakistan

There are two theories one is that an Anti-Islamic movie was being blocked while another theory is that a few videos did surface which showed poll rigging in Karachi

Sources say that this video could very well be the objectionable video that is being blocked in Pakistan – I have not seen the video as I cant access it, here is the text link, please venture at your own risk

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=o3s8jtvvg00

This is the email received from MultiNet via the Proud-Pakistani Mailing List where they place the onus on the People of Pakistan to put pressure on Youtube for unblocking the website.

Dear Valued Customer:

Pakistan Telecommunication Authority (www.pta.gov.pk) has directed all ISPs of the country to block access to www.youtube.com web site for containing blasphemous web content/movies.

The site would remain blocked till further orders from PTA. Meanwhile, Internet users can write to youtube.com to remove the objectionable web content/movies because this removal would enable the authorities to order un-blocking of this web site.

We’re sorry for any inconvenience.

Best Regards

Manager
Technical Assistance Center
Micronet Broadband Pvt. Ltd.
Islamabad

Traceroute to Youtube

Tracing route to youtube.com [208.65.153.251]
over a maximum of 30 hops:

1 <1 ms 1 ms <1 ms login.router [192.168.1.1] 2 25 ms 23 ms 26 ms 116.71.208.1 3 23 ms 23 ms 24 ms 203.99.170.202 4 46 ms 47 ms 48 ms a1-1-102.khi77gw1.pie.net.pk [202.125.159.41] 5 pos2-2.khi77gsrc1.pie.net.pk [202.125.159.45] reports: Destination host unreachable

February 4, 2008

Wiredpakistan.com blocked in Pakistan

WiredPakistan.com a technology blog and the forum run by KO for the past year has in a very astonishing development come under the censorship umbrella as per the directive issued by Network Operations Center at the Pakistan Internet Exchange.

A careful watch has been setup by Don’t Block the Blog and other organizations to monitor the developing situation and which ISP’s comply with this directive and as of the writing of this report only PTCL DSL subscribers are facing the block while others remain in the clear. We all remain astonished as to why an Innocent technology website has been a target of such censorship by the government of Pakistan

An email sent to various ISP identified the website as a blocked website

Subject: Re: Blocked IP
Date: Mon, 4 Feb 2008 15:06:47 +0500
From: NOC ITI
To: #########
CC: NOC ITI

Assalam-o-Alaikum

Dear Customer,

It is to apprise you that the following website has been blocked as per directive of PTA.
www.wiredpakistan.com

Best Regards,

[name removed]
Network Operations Center
Pakistan Internet Exchange

Voice : +92 21 2760066/2774258
Fax : +92 21 2751777
Email: noc@ptcl.net.pk
IP Services, 5th Floor Technical Block
Gateway Exchange Building, Marston Road
Karachi South, Pakistan
Web : http://www.pie.net.pk

While a traceroute from Worldcall Wireless shows it being blocked at the level of PIE

Tracing route to wiredpakistan.com [66.29.**.***] over a maximum of 30 hops:

1 251 ms 259 ms 259 ms 172.16.12.2
2 280 ms 260 ms 256 ms 172.16.12.1
3 254 ms 255 ms 259 ms host65.worldcall.net.pk [203.81.192.65]
4 257 ms 260 ms 261 ms cr01-g1-stm1-lhr-wc.worldcall.net.pk [203.81.192.1]
5 258 ms 260 ms 282 ms lhr63.pie.net.pk [202.125.147.41]
6 258 ms 259 ms 259 ms lhr63.pie.net.pk [202.125.138.135]
7 * * * Request timed out.

February 3, 2008

Death Sentence given to Afghanistani Blogger for Distributing Blog Article

The Afghan Association Blog Writers (Afghan Penlog), a group of Afghan activist bloggers, have expressed concern for a young journalist Sayed Parwiz Kambakhsh who was condemned to death by a local court.

He has been a reporter for Jahan-e Naw (New World) weekly and a student of journalism at Balkh University. According to Afghan Penlog and international media, Parwez Kambakhsh was detained by the authorities on October 27, 2007 for downloading and distributing an article that he found on an Iranian weblog to friends. It spoke of women’s rights, the Quran and the Prophet Mohammed. A local court in northern Afghanistan in Mazar-e Sharif has convicted him to death for the alleged blasphemy.

Global media watchdog Reporters Without Borders say the trial was “carried out in haste and without any concern for the law or for free expression, which is protected by the constitution.”

Index on Censorship says :

Deeply conservative Afghan clerics, most of whom have never used a computer or the Internet, believe Kambakhsh himself wrote the article and therefore found him guilty of blasphemy. Because there is no clear punishment for downloading “un-Islamic” articles from the Internet, the primary court of appeal asked clerics to comment. The conservative clerics, who had not investigated the case, demanded the death penalty.

According to CNN, many believe that Kambakhsh was actually arrested for articles his brother wrote that criticized provincial authorities. The brother, Sayed Yaqub Ibrahimi, has written numerous stories that detail human rights.

Afghan PenLog issued a statement that accused Afghan authorities of attempting to escape from the issue: “… the Afghan Ministry of Information and Culture has released a letter this afternoon that says Parwiz Kambakh was not a journalist and his case has nothing to do with the media.” Afghan Penlog is deeply concerned, and demands the immediate release of Parwiz Kambakhsh.

Credit: Global Voices Advocacy Blog

December 26, 2007

Free Fouad: Top Saudi Blogger Arrested

Free Foaud BloggerGlobal Voices Advocacy newsletter: The leading Saudi blogger, Fouad Alfarhan, who has been arrested in Jeddah on December 10, 2007 for exercising his freedom of speech on his popular blog alfarhan.org has sent a letter few days before his arrest to his friends:

I was told that there is an official order from a high-ranking official in the Ministry of the Interior to investigate me. They will pick me up anytime in the next 2 weeks.

The issue that caused all of this is because I wrote about the political prisoners here in Saudi Arabia and they think I’m running a online campaign promoting their issue. All what I did is wrote some pieces and put side banners and asked other bloggers to do the same.

he asked me to comply with him and sign an apology. I’m not sure if I’m ready to do that. An apology for what? Apologizing because I said the government is liar when they accused those guys to be supporting terrorism?

To expect the worst which is to be jailed for 3 days till we write good feedback about you and let u go

there may be no jial and only apologizing letter. But, if it’s more than three days, it should be out. I don’t want to be forgotten in jail.

According to his wife, Fouad’s arrest was directly linked to his blogging activities. He may remain in custody for a one-month investigation period. After that his family will be allowed to visit him and be informed about his case and the possible charges that might be brought against him. Fouad is apparently being held, without charge or trial, at the Ministry of Interior’s security service (al-Mabahith al-’Amma) headquarter in Jeddah. He has been arrested at his office in Jeddah and had been led to his home where police confiscated his laptop computer.

Read more on FreeFouad.com, Or join the Facebook group to show your support

December 4, 2007

Senate Bill 1959

Just to clarify the issue of Free speech, where examples are given of openess in the Western countries (specifically the USA) in comparison to the restrictions on free speech in Pakistan, South Asia and the East, here’s something that is likely to make your hair stand on end. This example epitomizes the changes that are likely to come in reference to freedom of speech.

Source: www.newstarget.com

Senate Bill 1959 to Criminalize Thoughts, Blogs, Books and Free Speech Across America
by Mike Adams

The end of Free Speech in America has arrived at our doorstep. It’s a new law called the Violent Radicalization and Homegrown Terrorism Prevention Act, and it is worded in a clever way that could allow the U.S. government to arrest and incarcerate any individual who speaks out against the Bush Administration, the war on Iraq, the Department of Homeland Security or any government agency (including the FDA). The law has already passed the House on a traitorous vote of 405 to 6, and it is now being considered in the Senate where a vote is imminent. All over the internet, intelligent people who care about freedom are speaking out against this extremely dangerous law: Philip Giraldi at the Huffington Post, Declan McCullagh at CNET’s News.com, Kathryn Smith at OpEdNews.com, and of course Alex Jones at PrisonPlanet.com

This bill is the beginning of the end of Free Speech in America. If it passes, all the information sources you know and trust could be shut down and their authors imprisoned. NewsTarget could be taken offline and I could be arrested as a “terrorist.” Jeff Rense at www.Rense.com could be labeled a “terrorist” and arrested. Byron Richards, Len Horowitz, Paul Craig Roberts, Greg Palast, Ron Paul and even Al Gore could all be arrested, silenced and incarcerated. This is not an exaggeration. It is a literal reading of the law, which you can check yourself here: http://thomas.loc.gov/home/gpoxmlc110/h1955_rfs.xml

The bill states:
Read the rest of this entry »

October 17, 2007

Pakistan ranked 152 on World Press Freedom Ranking

Reporters sans frontières - Annual Worldwide Press Freedom Index - PakistanReporters Without Borders has just released the latest World Press Freedom Rankings for the year 2007 and sadly Pakistan features in the bottom 20 countries coming in at rank 152 out of a total of 167 countries evaluated worldwide in terms of Press Freedom in the country. For the record Pakistan has mustered enough leverage to rise by five positions from its embarrassing 157th position last year but it still suffers some serious violation of Press Freedom quite aptly explained within the Press Release issued by RSF

Pakistan (152nd) continues to get a low ranking. All authority is concentrated in the army, led by Gen. Pervez Musharraf, who seized power in a coup in 1999. The privately-owned TV stations were prevented from working freely and dozens of reporters were beaten and arrested during a crisis precipitated by Musharraf’s dismissal of the supreme court president.

October 4, 2007

Support Burma: International Bloggers’ Day

Free Burma!

September 14, 2007

Google/Blogspot IP change results in Blogspot Ban

Google/Blogspot IP change results in Blogspot Ban in Pakistan
Download PDF Verison of the Press Release


It has being widely reported throughout Pakistan that access to the entire blogspot.com domain has yet again been blocked in Pakistan. For about four months (since May, 2007) Google fortunately had changed the IP address of its Blogspot servers. The new IP addresses were not demarcated as prohibited by the censorship filters located at the Pakistan Internet Exchange. Today, for some odd reason, Google has suddenly reverted back to its original IP address, which has been on the block list since March of 2006. This move has resulted in the blocking of all internet traffic to the blogspot.com domain. Millions of blog readers in Pakistan now are unable to read or and interact with any of these websites.

The block is apparent only on the large number of ISP’s that use the FLAG Backbone to connect to the World Wide Web. At the moment, Internet service provided by TransWorld is not affected as they have not yet completed the final stage of merging their traffic with the filters located with the Pakistan Telecommunications Authority (PTA), though there are rumours that they will be complying shortly.

For over the past eighteen months, the PTA has been actively blocking a number of websites after the Supreme Court of Pakistan ordered it to censor twelve specific websites. Upon its own initiative, in an apparent misapplication of the Supreme Court order, the PTA also blocked the entire blogspot.com domain which hosts over 20 million blogs.

Over the past year, the DON’T BLOCK THE BLOG campaign has been recognized both nationally and internationally as a credible organization highlighting free speech issues in Pakistan. The DBTB banner is hosted on a number of websites around the world, and is a testament that many people believe in supporting the cause of free speech in Pakistan.

We at Don’t Block the Blog continue to strongly opposes any form of internet censorship and request national and international bloggers, print media, and free speech organizations to help support our cause and to continue to highlight this issue of the unfair blanket ban of blogs for internet users in Pakistan. Alternatively, we may even urge the system administrators at Google, Inc to help the people of Pakistan by changing the IP addresses of their blogspot.com servers which may allow us unrestricted access to the blogspot domain

Background:

The PTA (Pakistan Telecommunication Authority) initially blocked access to the blogspot domain on the 3rd of March 2006, due to a Supreme Court decision dated 2nd March 2006 instructing the PTA to ban 12 offending websites which highlighted the blasphemous cartoons on the Prophet Muhammad (PBUH). In adherence to the Supreme Court ruling, all 12 sites were blocked including one that was hosted on the blogspot domain. But rather than block the offending blogspot website, the PTA blocked the entire domain ( www.blogspot.com) which happens to be one of the most popular blog hosting domains hosting upwards of 8 million blogs globally, according to some estimates.

The Don’t Block the Blog (DBTB) campaign (http://www.help-pakistan.com/main/) was launched by the Alvi-e team, Dr. Awab Alvi and Omer Alvie, on 3rd March, 2006 in order to highlight the unfair blanket ban of the blogspot domain and additionally to show support for free internet speech in general. Approximately at the same time the Society Against Internet Censorship in Pakistan (formerly known as The Action Group Against Blogspot Ban in Pakistan – AGABBIP) ( http://groups.google.com/group/AGABBIP ), a mailing list with dozens of contributing members, also was formed to protest this form of censorship in Pakistan.