Published On: Wed, Oct 28th, 2015

Pakistan ranks lowest in Freedom on the Net 2015 report


KARACHI: Pakistan is one of the lowest ranking countries in the world when it comes to freedom of information on the internet, showed a Freedom House report on Wednesday.

The US-based watchdog, in its Freedom on the Net 2015 study, gave the South Asian nation 69 rank on a score card in which zero denotes most free and 100 not free.

The Pakistan’s ranking, unchanged from 2014, was better than Bahrain (72), Saudi Arabia (73), Vietnam (76), Uzbekistan (78), Cuba (81), Ethiopia (82), Iran (87), Syria (87) and China (88), but worst than other 55 countries assessed in the survey.

The watchdog, monitoring the status of freedom, said the internet freedom around the world declined for the fifth consecutive year in 2015 as more governments censored information of public interest.

“Governments are increasingly pressuring individuals and the private sector to take down or delete offending content, as opposed to relying on blocking and filtering,” said Sanja Kelly, project director for Freedom on the Net, in a statement. “They know that average users have become more technologically savvy and are often able to circumvent state-imposed blocks.”

The survey’s findings showed that authorities in Pakistan employed six key internet controls during June 2014 and May 2015 to expand surveillance and crack down on privacy tools.

The study found that social media and communication applications and social/religious content were blocked during the period under review.

The data showed that the government shut down information and communication technology services nationwide or at the local level. It said new law for censorship was passed. People were arrested for political or social content. Even journalists were killed and physically attacked, it added.

The report said Pakistani government bought FinFisher software from surveillance and monitoring technology company Gamma International to take control of targeted computers.

Internet penetration in Pakistan is below 20 percent, but growing mobile broadband services are giving a boost to internet usage in the country.


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