The PTA said the ban was aimed at curbing illegal VoIP traffic, also known as grey traffic. VoIP is a technology that allows users to make a call, even via a landline or mobile phone number, from computer software. Like when agents call you for a credit card quote, you`ll notice that the number appears to be a normal landline phone number, but when you call back, you`ll receive a message that the number isn`t correct. These calls are made via a VoIP service that hides the caller`s identity. The PTA claimed that under telecommunications rules and regulations, it only took action against those who used VoIP and VPNs to stop illegal traffic, resulting in losses to the Treasury. The Electronic Crime Prevention Act, passed in 2016, is the main law used by the Pakistani government to criminalize political and religious dissent on the internet. The guidelines set by PECA give the government, the PTA and security forces the ability to censor online content and take legal action against those accused of criminal activity. PECA also has provisions for general cybersecurity, but they are not as relevant to our topic today. A virtual private network, or VPN, is a necessity given today`s cybersecurity scenario. Unfortunately, this privacy-focused tool can also serve as a safe haven for criminals. That`s why we need to aggressively advocate for the legality of VPNs. This has raised concerns among digital activist groups, and many have criticized the decision because it was passed without consulting relevant stakeholders or allowing for public comment.
While this is a potentially massive invasion of privacy, the PTA says it is only intended to stop illegal Voice over IP (VoIP) traffic. Important: In Pakistan, there may be restrictions on the use of VPN. The vpnMentor team does not tolerate any illegal activity. Please check with the latest laws and regulations regarding the use of THE VPN and the prohibitions of websites where you are located so as not to accidentally break the laws. As expected, this paradox has led to a question that arises in the minds of every internet user: Are VPNs legal? Ali Javed, a Lawyer based in Lahore, says it is important to investigate whether anonymity on the internet can be considered a right under rights already set out in Pakistan`s constitution. He says, « The Constitution allows freedom of expression and the right to privacy as fundamental, so any restriction to force someone not to be anonymous could violate that person. » However, he says, « there are no court decisions in Pakistan that relate specifically to anonymity on the Internet that could be referenced or that could set a precedent. » What needs to be seen, however, is whether the state ensures the « least restrictive » way of regularizing illegal activities, in this case grey trafficking; but according to Javed, the VPN ban is a « smokescreen. » Every country in the world has a different attitude towards online censorship and VPNs. This guide covers data from all the countries that matter and says, « Where are VPNs legal, illegal, and restricted? » Although VPNs are no longer a luxury today. Instead, they are a must for every internet user to protect privacy online. However, because VPNs give users a sense of internet freedom, authorities in many countries around the world don`t like them for their citizens.
Although VPNs are generally legal, some countries have introduced strict laws against these tools. And using VPNs in such regions can expose you to legal consequences. Therefore, it is advisable to know in advance if VPNs are legal in your country before deciding to use a VPN. The PTA clarified in a press release in 2020 that the registration requirement will not interfere with the services of legitimate users, as the only objective is to reduce grey traffic affecting legal businesses. This was published in response to an article by Profit, a Pakistan-based trade publication, which said the VPN ban could affect small businesses. The story had claimed that the VPN registration process was long and tedious, but PTA said in a response to the story that users simply have to fill out a form and apply through their ISPs. The agency warned that action will only be taken against unauthorized VPNs to stop illegal traffic, « resulting in losses to the Treasury. » VPNs allow many people around the world to hide their identity for good and bad reasons. Where it has been a common tool for criminals to hide their identity and traffic data in order to carry out illegal activities online, they also allow human rights activists and journalists working on sensitive topics to ensure that their access to the Internet is free from unwanted surveillance.
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