Pakistan to ban encryption software
Millions of internet users in Pakistan will be unable to send emails and messages without fear of government snooping after authorities banned the use of encryption software.
A legal notice sent to all internet providers (ISPs) by the Pakistan Telecommunications Authority, seen by the Guardian, orders the ISPs to inform authorities if any of their customers are using virtual private networks (VPNs) to browse the web.
Virtual private networks allow internet users to connect to the web undetected, meaning that they can access banned websites and send emails without fear of government interception.
Pakistan’s 20 million internet users have previously been banned from popular social networks, such as Facebook, because of blasphemous material about the prophet Muhammad. All internet traffic in the country travels through the Pakistan Internet Exchange, which can be intercepted by the military and civil intelligence agencies. The move echoes a crackdown against encrypted communications across the border in India and in China.
Authorities in Islamabad insisted that the ban on VPN access was intended to stem communications by terrorists.