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PTA says it does not conduct surveillance

Updated May 07, 2014

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The PTA has distanced itself from charges that it carry's  out surveillance on the internet. -File Image
The PTA has distanced itself from charges that it carry's out surveillance on the internet. -File Image

The Pakistan Telecommunications Authority (PTA) has responded to non-profit organisation Bolo Bhi’s request for information regarding surveillance equipment and list of blocked websites.

Responding to the requests, the PTA says that it does not carry out surveillance on the internet and has distanced itself from the charges.

The PTA was specifically asked about the presence of surveillance equipment in Pakistan.

According to Canada-based Citizen Lab’s report, published on April 30, 2013, tests carried out detected the presence of FinFisher Command and Control servers in Pakistan.

FinFisher is a digital spying server used for mass surveillance of the internet.

Regarding disclosure of the list of websites blocked by the PTA, it is still awaiting decision of the relevant authority.

Bolo Bhi has stated that tests confirm the presence of FinFisher servers in Pakistan.

The organisation had filed right to information requests with the PTA under the Freedom of Information Act 2002 on 12 February, 2014.

Under the law, an authority has 21 days to respond to the request.

Bolo Bhi filed a complaint on 24 March 2014 with the Federal Ombudsman about failure of the PTA to respond to the information requests within the specified period.

On 2 April, 2014, the Federal Ombudsman notified Bolo Bhi that PTA has been given the deadline of 18 April 2014 to respond to the organisation's request.

Complying with the order of the Federal Ombudsman, PTA responded on 15 April 2014.

PTCL and Ministry of Information Technology & Telecommunication have been sent similar requests by Bolo Bhi, but have not responded.

The organisation said that it is still waiting for an official notification for a hearing at the Ombudsman’s office.