In February, 2012, Pakistan’s information technology minister invited bids for deployment of a national internet filtering system. China’s “Great Firewall” was the inspiration. Pakistani authorities’ intent to limit free information access online was confirmed in September, 2012, when Pakistani internet users were denied access to the entire YouTube platform, an official response to posting of the film, “The Innocence of Muslims,” which was deemed blasphemous. Currently, 20,000 to 40,000 sites are blocked in Pakistan. This massive censorship is the work of the Pakistan Telecommunication Authority, the main web regulation agency, itself closely controlled by the government and the military.
Centre for Development of Telematics (C-Dot)
The Indian government carefully refrained from joining the wave of condemnation that followed Edward Snowden’s revelations of the scandalous scale of NSA surveillance. India had reason for silence. The extensive Indian surveillance system has been expanded since the Mumbai attacks in 2008. The Central Monitoring System, developed by the Centre for Development of Telematics, allows the government direct, unlimited and real-time access to a wide variety of electronic communications without relying on internet service providers.
The Vietnamese government tolerates no online political debate. Bloggers and cyber-dissidents who dare to question the government’s legitimacy or domestic policies are ruthlessly suppressed. Authorities have deployed a judicial, administrative and technological strike force, based in the Ministry of Information and Communications, to control online information. Though officials and the justice system on their own do not hesitate to violate articles 88 and 79 of the criminal code by imprisoning independent news providers, the ministry conducts its own internet censorship policy – ever more meticulously and with overwhelming force.
State Internet Information Office
China’s leaders realized at a very early stage that the Internet was not just a free speech medium but also a major political challenge. To justify their oppressive censorship and systematic surveillance of the Internet and its users, they stress the need to ensure the country’s stability and harmony. Although China’s Internet is one of most regulated in the world, it continues to serve as an exceptional vehicle for circulating information.
Central Scientiﬁc and Technological Information Agency (CSTIA)
North Korea is one of the few countries where censorship can be judged by what is seen online, rather than what is missing. The country is not linked to the Internet proper and the authorities keep most of the population isolated from the rest of the world and even from the national intranet. The intranet was developed by the Central Scientiﬁc and Technological Information Agency (CSTIA) and is highly restricted and closely controlled by the domestic intelligence agencies. Its goal is not to keep the population informed but merely to broadcast the official ideology and strengthen the technical skills of those who work for the fatherland. To enforce this wall of silence, special units such as Group 109 and Department 27 are dedicated to tracking down digital devices brought in from outside the country.