For Immediate Release: March 2, 2012
Washington, DC – As the Pakistani Government seeks proposals from companies to help it put in place a comprehensive new Internet filtering system that would dramatically impact users within the nation’s borders, Human Rights First praised Websense for its decision not to seek the contract, and urged other companies to follow suit.
“We applaud Websense for its decision not to seek the Pakistan contract,” said Human Rights First’s Elisa Massimino. “In its announcement, Websense called broad government censorship of citizen access to the Internet ‘morally wrong’ and urged other companies to pull their products from countries where they are used to impose government-sponsored censorship. Other companies should heed that call and take a serious look at their own government-censorship compliance policies.”
Human Rights First criticized Pakistan’s plans to build a comprehensive censorship scheme that would restrict the freedom of information and infringe on fundamental rights. The U.N. Special Rapporteur on Freedom of Expression has affirmed that limitations on expression for legitimate aims must be narrowly drawn, necessary and proportionate. As described in its request for corporate partners in this effort, Pakistan’s system that would fall far short of those requirements.
Human Rights First is a founding member of the Global Network Initiative (GNI), a multi-stakeholder group of companies, civil society organizations (including human rights and press freedom groups), investors and academics, who have created a collaborative approach to protect and advance freedom of expression and privacy in the ICT sector. GNI provides resources for ICT companies to help them address difficult issues related to freedom of expression and privacy that they may face anywhere in the world. GNI has created a framework of principles and a confidential, collaborative approach to working through challenges of corporate responsibility in the ICT sector. Websense is a member of the GNI, and the company rightly noted in its statement today that broad censorship of the internet by governments runs counter to the principles of the GNI.