John R. Houk
© April 20, 2019
WordPress.com owners “Automattic” sent an email alert that a photo of Muhammad and Aisha portrayed in a pedophiliac relationship with Quranic surahs side-by-side has been restricted in Pakistan in compliance to a Pakistani censorship demand.
Here is the email notification of Automattic compliance:
Clark S. (Automattic)
Apr 20, 01:07 UTC
[Actual Email Received 4/19/2019 8:07 PM CT]
A Pakistan authority has demanded that we disable the following content on your WordPress.com site:
Unfortunately, we must comply to keep WordPress.com accessible for everyone in the region. As a result, we have disabled this content only for Internet visitors originating from Pakistan. They will instead see a message explaining why the content was blocked.
Visitors from outside of Pakistan are not affected.
You and your readers may be interested in these suggestions for bypassing Internet restrictions.
For your reference, we have included a copy of the complaint. No reply is necessary, but please let us know if you have any questions.
— Begin complaint —
Dear WordPress Team,
I am writing on behalf of Web Analysis Team of Pakistan Telecommunication Authority (PTA) which has been designated for taking appropriate measures for regulating Internet Content in line with the prevailing laws of Islamic Republic of Pakistan.
In lieu of above it is highlighted that few of the web pages hosted on your platform are extremely Blasphemous and are hurting the sentiments of many Muslims around Pakistan. The same has also been declared blasphemous under Pakistan Penal Code section 295, 295A, 295B, 295C and is in clear violation of Section 37 of Prevention of Electronic Crime Act (PECA) 2016 and Section 19 of Constitution of Pakistan.
Keeping above in view, It is requested to please support in removing following URL’s from your platform at earliest please.
The below mentioned websites can be found on following URL’s:-
You are requested to contribute towards maintaining peace and harmony in the world by discontinuation of hosting of these websites for viewership in Pakistan with immediate effect. We will be happy to entertain any query if deemed necessary and looking forward for your favorable response at your earliest.
Web Analysis Team
+92 51 9214396
— End complaint —
WordPress.com | Automattic
To “Clark” (whoever that individual is) and Automattic’s credit, a link is provided that shows Pakistani residence how to work around Pakistani government censorship. Here is the content of that link:
Bypassing Internet Restrictions
Access to the Internet is subject to restrictions in many countries. These range from the ‘Great Firewall of China’, to default content filtering systems in place in the UK. As a result, WordPress.com blogs can sometimes be inaccessible in these places. As far as we are concerned, that’s BS.
There are a number of ways available to bypass these restrictions. As part of our commitment to freedom of speech, we have listed some of the possibilities below. Bear in mind that the most effective route will depend on where you are connecting from.
While these methods are generally legal, you should always exercise caution when deciding to make use of them, and research the situation in the country you are connecting from first.
VPNs (Virtual Private Network)
VPN services allow you to connect to the Internet through their networks, rather than accessing websites directly. These connections are often encrypted, bypass restrictions that may be in place, and are often used for secure browsing.
- Depending on the VPN, users can enjoy anonymity in their web browsing.
- Users from countries that routinely block traffic to and from certain sites within their borders (e.g., China, Russia, Iran) can bypass those restrictions by using a VPN.
- Users concerned about government surveillance and third-party data capture and retention can use a VPN to mask their web activity. The most privacy-conscious VPNs don’t even keep data logs and thus have no user information or traffic to surrender to third-parties.
- VPNs add another layer of complexity to Internet access. Users will need to select from a number of different providers to find the right VPN that meets their needs; download additional software to their computers or mobile devices; and configure the software.
- Not all VPNs provide complete anonymity. Some may log traffic or user data. If it’s a paid VPN service, credit card and other payment information may be linked to individual user accounts, compromising user security and privacy.
- Performance and connectivity can be much slower than standard network connections. In some cases, users may find themselves having to log in multiple times during a session.
Some examples of popular VPN services are below. You should make sure to explore the best service for your own situation before making any decisions on what to use.
Setting up VPNs
Each VPN provider will have different ways to connect to their service. Some example instructions of how to set up VPN connections are below.
VPN services typically also include downloadable apps for your mobile devices such as these:
Tor is free software that routes an Internet connection through different locations around the web. This masks where you are connecting from, and bypasses the restrictions put in place by governments and Internet Service Providers. There are versions available for many different platforms, including Windows, Mac, iPhone, and Android.
While similar to VPN software in many ways, Tor is distinct in that it relies on individual computers acting as nodes to route the connection through – rather than solely large commercial servers. As a result, connecting through Tor can be significantly slower than the speeds you may be used to.
More information can be found on the Tor website.
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