When the World Wide Web was created in 1989 by Tim Berners-Lee (not to be confused with the Internet itself, which is the core network developed many years earlier), its main objective was to enable the free exchange of information via interlinked hypertext documents.
Almost 20 years later, that objective has been accomplished on most parts of the world, but not in all of them. Some countries are trying hard to keep an iron hand over the flow of information that takes place on the Web. Below you will find the most controversial ones.
Pakistan started censoring the web in 2000, when the main target was anti-Islamic content. Over the time, it seems, they liked the possibility to control the Internet traffic, and have been increasing the scope of their censorship system ever since.
How does the censorship work?
There are only three international gateways on the country, and all of them are controlled by the Pakistan Telecommunication Company. The government, therefore, is able to monitor and block most unwanted traffic using filtering software (although their technical apparatus is not sophisticated).
Internet service providers are also required by law to monitor the activity of their clients to make sure that they are not accessing prohibited websites.
What kind of content is blocked?
In the first years of the web censorship in Pakistan, the main target was anti-Islamic content and websites that were related to political autonomy movements (e.g., the Balochi one). In 2003, however, the Pakistan Telecommunication Company declared that they would also officially block all pornographic websites.
In 2006 mainstream western websites, including Wikipedia and several newspapers, got blocked as well. The intensification of the censorship was propelled by the episode of the Danish cartoons that contained images of the Prophet Muhammad.