Pakistan pulling plug on controversial Internet filter--report

After weeks of online protest, Pakistan may be ready to kill its plan to create a massive URL blocking--i.e., Web filtering--system.

Charles Cooper Former Executive Editor / News
Charles Cooper was an executive editor at CNET News. He has covered technology and business for more than 25 years, working at CBSNews.com, the Associated Press, Computer & Software News, Computer Shopper, PC Week, and ZDNet.
Charles Cooper

Pakistan may scrap a controversial plan to block and filter the Internet nationwide.

A member of Pakistan's National Assembly told the internationally affiliated newspaper Express Tribune that the Ministry of Information Technology had decided to withdraw the plan.

The legislator--Bushra Goha, who represents the country's Khyber-Pakhtunkhwa region--said she was informed by a senior ministry official that the plan is being withdrawn "due to the concern shown by various stakeholders."

Officially, the MoIT has neither confirmed nor denied the report, according to the paper. A spokesperson said to expect a statement on the project's future Tuesday.

The original idea was to build a national-level URL filtering and blocking system (PDF) that could better block Web sites found featuring what the Pakistan Telecommunication Authority described as "blasphemous, un-Islamic, offensive, objectionable, unethical, and immoral material." Bidding closed on Friday.

It's unclear how many American companies actually competed for the contract. The potential involvement of foreign--in particular, U.S.-based--firms had stirred considerable online opposition in the last month.