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Here’s Why PTA’s VPN Restriction is Bad for Everyone


Virtual Private Networks (VPNs) allow you to establish a secure and private connection to the internet. This lets you appear as if you are accessing the internet from a different location and also saves you from data theft.

The Pakistan Telecommunication Authority (PTA) has recently declared that hiding or encrypting online communication is against its regulations. Hence, the regulator has now issued a public notice, telling people to get their VPNs registered for legitimate use to avoid disruption.

The notice says that private and public sector organizations, foreign missions, and freelancers who wish to use VPNs must have them registered from now on.

They have until October 31, 2022, to do so before their VPNs get disrupted.

 

PTA’s notice does not clarify what it means by “disruption”. Will individual users have to register their VPNs as well? Will all unregistered VPNs cease to function after the given date? Who knows.

Naturally, this resulted in a severe backlash from users across the internet, and for good reason. A VPN’s use is not limited to hiding communication online, but it also lets you access content that is otherwise blocked in a region. Pakistan has hundreds of useful websites blocked and there is always the looming threat of being barred from games and apps like PUBG Mobile and TikTok. This forces users to switch to alternatives like VPNs.

VPNs also let you unlock more content on streaming websites such as Netflix. PTA’s recent block of VoIP services in Pakistan also disrupted communication apps like Discord and games that use such services including Overwatch and numerous others, forcing people to get VPNs.

Problem with Blanket Bans

The issue with PTA’s move is that it is only seeing this restriction from a security and business point of view and ignores people’s basic right to privacy, security, and unrestricted internet access. Pakistan’s solution to technical problems has always been a blanket ban for everything, sweeping over harmful and harmless users alike.

This only reminds you of the times the teacher would punish the entire class over one student’s ill behavior.

The internet should be seen as an open space that people can freely connect to without having to worry about restrictions. There is also a critical need for a better approach towards bans and disruptions that only targets the harmful audience that it is meant for, rather than every single citizen across the country.





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Written by Nauman

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