PTA has been a national villain for some years now and it has launched its new tactic recently because apparently, they were bored of just implementing mind-wrenching mobile devices taxes and now have even started to target the things we can do inside them. Now we even have to register the VPN that we use for our security and privacy purposes otherwise, the supreme PTA will get upset and
PTA tweeted this Saturday that the “Usage of any mode of communication such as VPN by means of which communication becomes hidden or encrypted is a violation of PTA regulations.” With this tweet, they also posted a detailed notification announcing that all freelancers and agencies are expected to register their VPNs and they are going to be monitored by the Government.
VPN Registration Fee:
There is no registration fee for the individuals registering but the agencies that comprise more than 5 people in their firm would need to pay a yet unknown fee in order to register their VPN for their legitimate operations.
“There is no fee for VPN registration, however, fee for IP whitelisting is applicable for IP addresses five or more (including previously whitelisted IP addresses).”
But the main problem does not concern the money that must be paid but the privacy that is going to be compromised.
Privacy is a joke:
Virtual Private Network (VPN) has the word “private” in its name but PTA plans on changing the meaning of the word “private” in Pakistan. While registering the VPN, you would need to provide your alternative IP address to the PTA which means that the government not only knows your actual location but also whatever you are surfing. Theoretically, this step is to stop any illegal or terrorist activities in the country but the common citizen will lose their freedom of speech and right to privacy as the government will know of any anti-government campaigns and regarding the history of politicians of Pakistan, they won’t be naive enough to let it slide.
Why is PTA Made VPN registration necessary?
The first time this came under consideration was in 2010 when National Security Agency (NSA) leaks by Edward Snowden were published, the United States spied the most on Iranian citizens using surveillance technology, followed by Pakistani citizens.
The Pakistani state itself has the capacity for surveillance of unencrypted internet traffic, using the Web Monitoring System (WMS) which was purchased for a whopping $18 million from Canadian firm Sandvine in December 2018. This encouraged tons of grey traffic reduction and was paid for by internet service providers and telecom companies under the Monitoring and Reconciliation Telephony Traffic Regulations, 2010.
Why PTA should reverse its decision?
PTA is and always seen the internet in Pakistan as a mode of security and business, completely ignoring citizens’ basic right to freedom of speech, right to privacy, and right to access information, which is protected by the Constitution. Yes! This is against the constitution of Pakistan and there is no law in the Pakistan constitution that allows law enforcement to be in a higher place than public privacy and freedom of speech.
There is a need for the policymakers to come up with something that is inside the boundaries of the state and should only carry out surveillance under the law, having followed due process, including obtaining warrants from the court. The current practice is unbridled and ruthless spying by the state and gives the helm to the government to blackmail opponents, actors, and even common citizens unconstitutionally as we have seen throughout history, but even more so in the recent past.
What to use instead of VPNs now?
As far as the track record is under study, there is no amount of protest or resistance that can make PTA or government officials undo this absurd decision but we have to think about our privacy. So here are two options for high-end encryption requirements and for moderate daily-use encryption.
Tails Operating System:
Tails is a Linux operating system that claims to change the IP address of the system 13 times per second and it is virtually impossible to reach the current IP address of the device thus, let alone the government, even your internet provider can’t get access to your device. Tails OS is absolutely free open source operating system and anyone can install it.
The only problem with that is if a person has never used Linux, it can be a tricky transformation, and if you don’t require such privacy and just need your browser to be secure you should use:
Privacy Badger is a Mozilla Firefox extension that is also available in chrome. Privacy Badger is also an open-source and free extension and it would prove as an effective tool for protecting your privacy, making browsing faster, and (incidentally) blocking adverts. Basically, it blocks the trackers to obtain any of your cookies( ids and passwords) while browsing so instead of using any VPN you shall use Privacy Badger.
PTA Announces New Deadline for Internet Users to Register VPNs