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The resent ICT R&D National level URL Filtering and Blocking System was much criticised by different sector of civil society for being infringment of basic rights of citizens of Pakistan. In this regard, Bolo Bhi – and organization with focus on advocacy, policy and research, had requested CEOs of companies to commit of not selling or bidding to the RPF put up by the Government of Pakistan.
Today, one of the companies Websense have publicly committed that they will not respond to the Govt’s request and have alsoo asked others to follow their lead. It may be noted here that the proposal submission which was due today have now been extended till March 16th, 2012.
The official statement from Websense follows:
” According to several organizations, on Feb 22, 2012, the National ICT R&D Fund, representing the govt of Pakistan, placed advertisement in the press calling companies to submit proposal for the development and operation of a national level URL Filtering and Blocking System.
Broad censorship of the internet by governments, and restricting citizen access runs counter to Websense Policy on Govt-Imposed Censorship and principles of the Global Network Initiative (GNI), which we are an active member of.
Websense will not submit a response to this request for proposal (RFP), and we call on other technology providers to also do the right thing for the citizens of Pakistan and refuse to submit a proposal for this contract. Broad Govt censorship of citizen access to the internet is morally wrong. We further believe that anu company whose products are currently being used for govt-omposed censorship should remove their technology so that it is not used in this way by oppressive govts.
Websense will work with the GNI and other interested parties to continue to pressure our peers to not only refuse this RFP, but to adopt general policies so that they will also refuse to support govt-imposed censorship of the internet in the future.“