Pakistani newspaper ad seeks bids for a Great Firewall of Pakistan

The ad, clipped from one of the national Pakistani newspapers today (it apparently ran in all of them), seeks bids for a national censoring firewall: "Each box should be able to handle a block list of up to 50 million URLs (concurrent unidirectional filtering capacity) with processing delay of not more than 1 milliseconds."

(Thanks, Shari!)


  1. So, is putting a bid together? Great! I look forward to it. This is the opportunity to set in place a proper system to “filter” the “internet” whilst ensuring that all invalid take-down notices result in hefty financial damages to the proposer. How about this: To request a take-down notice, one must place 2% of one’s assets (or equivalent sum, the assets of one’s holding company or group of companies) in escrow with the take-down agency. If the take-down notice is upheld by the court, the sum is returned, otherwise it is forfeited.

    Section 2 could cover circumvention measures to be released after the service launches; a protocol to map each real world URL into 5*10^7 extended URLs, to pad up the blocking table, define ARP: auto rickrolling protocol, etc.

    Remember, like the Greek monks: we say “Yes, and…” rather than “No, but…”

    I wonder how recently this advert ran? Does anyone know? Given the deadline is the end of next week, it probably indicates the government has already picked the winner, and they now need to go through the motions of rubber stamping the process of throwing a bung to their friends.

  2. What’s the general feeling in Pakistan about this?

    If an ad like this were to be printed in an English/US newspaper I imagine that there’d be quite an uproar – even in the mainstream. I appreciate however that Pakistan have a few other things on their plate.

    Either way it’s quite a bold move; to issue an RFP for a national information censorship tool, in a newspaper.  The word ‘chutzpah’ comes to mind.

    Also, I’d love to hear their justification for such a system – every country seems to come up with a novel way to justify censorship – so what’s it going to be, national security? Piracy? Something new?

    1.  “If an ad like this were to be printed in an English/US newspaper…” is a great starting point for any wealthy boingboingers to do exactly that–purchase adspace in the paper of your choosing (I’d recommend the WSJ) and write up similarly spooky ad copy. 

      My bet?  Lots of replies in the affirmative (but then, I’m somewhat of a pessimist).

  3.  +++What’s the general feeling in Pakistan about this?+++

    We feel it’s one more wasted effort at reminding us not to upload insults about the President on YouTube.

    +++I’d love to hear their justification for such a system+++

    The usual “Porno is ruining our kids!” mostly. We are Muslims you see… no sex thank you. We can divide like amoebas.

  4. I am a software engineer from Pakistan and I assure you there is nothing to worry about. There is a new “filtering system” almost every year and they have all been incredibly easy to bypass. So no worries.

    This is just a bunch of grumpy old men paranoid by the internet and technology in general; what to them is some form of  new evil voodoo.

    Very similar to SOPA and PIPA in the US.

  5. Actually it’s nice to see that the Pakistani government follows good procurement practices even when it could be inconvenient for them.  A Western government would just make a sweet deal with whoever made the most campaign contributions to key representatives, ignoring all open procurement practices on grounds of national security.

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