Public Perception of Internet Freedom and Censorship in Pakistan

take_004The aim of this research study is to investigate in-depth the link between Internet Freedom, Internet usage and public perception towards Internet Censorship in Pakistan. Defending right to freedom of expression has been a long standing tradition in many developed countries but that’s not always been the case in many developing countries where government restrictions on all traditional medium of expressions are often accepted as a part of life.  With many of the Pakistanis getting access to the Internet for the first time and getting connected to a global community things may be beginning to change as evidence from Global South suggests that more of a country’s population that’s connected to the Web, the more likely it is that they’ll support ending government controls and censorship mechanism but is that truly the case for Pakistan needs to be thoroughly investigated. The revolutionary role played by Internet in Arab Spring movements for democracy has led governments around the world to crack down on the Internet and NSA revelations of mass surveillance has further empowered governments to censor the Internet under the guise of national security. This study would explore the role played by demographic characteristics such as age, income, location, religious beliefs, and access to Internet, usage and awareness about Internet censorship in Pakistan by conducting a national survey and determine if increasing web access to developing countries will result in support for ending government controls of surveillance and censorship of the Internet.

This Project is supported by Internet Policy Observatory at Center for Global Communication Studies, University of Pennsylvania.


The use of internet for democracy led movements around the world has resulted in government’s crackdown on the web in the form of blanket censorship. Most governments in developing countries like Pakistan want to regulate the Internet in the way Television is regulated and have tighter control mechanism in place in guise of national security, religion and protection of society. Before the coming of Arab Spring government in Pakistan was planning on promoting the Internet for socio-economic development but off late the policies have been skulking and broadband diffusion is not taking off as earlier predicted. Furthermore, government censorship of Internet has been increasing and famous websites, blogs, Facebook pages remains blocked. New filtering technologies and mechanism are in place that blocks not just only porn, blasphemous material but political content and events as well. Anonymous proxy servers, android proxy applications, VPN to circumvent web blocking are being blocked on daily basis.  The alarming growth of web censorship in Pakistan is threatening the future of Internet and creating a digitally divided society with unequal access to knowledge and free speech. Read More

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