The internet users in Pakistan will not be able to browse the web using encryption software after 30th June, unless they register Virtual Private Networks (VPNs) with the telecom authorities. In a press release, the Pakistan Telecommunication Authority (PTA) has urged customers using VPNs to browse the internet to register with their internet service providers.
Virtual Private Networks enable internet users to connect to the web undetected, indicating that they can access banned sites and send emails without fear of government interference.
However, several businesses, including banks, utilise encrypted connections to communicate with their branches and customers, in order to protect sensitive data like account numbers and passwords.
According to the PTA,
As per applicable rules and regulations, appropriate registration is required from PTA for any mode of communication in which communication becomes hidden or encrypted.
Furthermore, the authority stated that the advertisement is published by the PTA in the light of clause 6 of Monitoring and Reconciliation of Telephony Traffic Regulations (MRITT), 2010.
The regulation under MRITT authorizes the monitoring and blocking of any traffic (encrypted or not), which include voice and data, beginning or terminating in Pakistan. This incorporates all encrypted VoIP services.
The PTA affirmed that as per telecom rules and regulations, it was only taking action against those utilising VoIP and VPNs for stopping illegal traffic, causing loss to the exchequer.
Legitimate web users can register their VPNs through their internet service providers by filling a couple of forms, which include undertaking and provision of basic documentation, without any charges.