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Pakistan Looking For Homegrown URL Blocking System 97

Posted by Soulskill
from the do-it-yourself-censorship dept.
chicksdaddy writes "Tech-enabled filtering and blocking of Web sites and Internet addresses that are deemed hostile to repressive regimes has been a major political and human rights issue in the last year, as popular protests in Egypt, Tunisia, Libya and Syria erupted. Now it looks as if Pakistan's government is looking for a way to strengthen its hand against online content it considers undesirable. According to a request for proposals from the National ICT (Information and Communications and Technologies) R&D Fund, the Pakistani government is struggling to keep a lid on growing Internet and Web use and is looking for a way to filter out undesirable Web sites. The 'indigenous' filtering system would be 'deployed at IP backbones in major cities, i.e., Karachi, Lahore and Islamabad,' the RFP reads (PDF). It would be 'centrally managed by a small and efficient team stationed at POPs of backbone providers,' and must be capable of supporting 100Gbps interfaces and filtering Web traffic against a block list of up to 50 million URLs without latency of more than 1 millisecond."
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Pakistan Looking For Homegrown URL Blocking System

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  • by elrous0 (869638) * on Friday February 24, 2012 @06:23PM (#39153635)

    Porn, websites that criticize the government, members of Al-Qaeda--that whole country is like a big ole' fun game of hide-and-seek. The government hides it, and you get to seek.

    • by Threni (635302)

      The Samaritans have outsourced their call centre to Pakistan. I phoned the other day and told them I was suicidal. They got excited and asked if I could drive a truck.

      Seriously, who gives a fuck? They're fucked either way? The 'bad guys' will be using Tor and accessing stuff on the .onion fake tld and using Silk Road to sell drugs, buy guns etc anyway, so who gives a shit?

  • by ottawanker (597020) on Friday February 24, 2012 @06:29PM (#39153693) Homepage

    The sad thing is that the governments in these oppressive countries seem to understand how the Internet actually works.. and manage to come up with actual requirements for filtering devices.

    • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

      by Anonymous Coward
      That's because their leaders(or at least many important people in the government) were educated in freer Western nations and exposed to what happens with the freedom of information. Bashar Al-Assad is an example of this.
      • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

        by crutchy (1949900)
        and they don't rot their brains watching oprah
      • by K. S. Kyosuke (729550) on Friday February 24, 2012 @07:18PM (#39154107)
        They remind me of our former communist politicians - thanks to their position, they got to visit the West, and they still didn't see. They went back home and continued vilifying things they had seen but hadn't grasped. This is such a similar situation that it's not even funny. Islam is the new communism is the new fascism.
        • by Alex Belits (437) *

          I live in US since 1993, and I would rather live in USSR if it was not destroyed and turned into shit by people who "grasped" your myths.

          Some people don't understand you because you are ignorant and stupid.

          • I live in US since 1993, and I would rather live in USSR if it was not destroyed and turned into shit by people who "grasped" your myths.

            The Russians had very little chance grasping anything after the regime broke down, what with the half a millenium spent in real or virtual serfdom, first to samoderzhavie, then to the communist party, and now to the Russian style of government that is almost, but not quite entirely unlike samoderzhavie again. You can't change the spirit of the people overnight. My folks were in a better starting position, but we still have a long way to go and we're not ashamed to admit it (well, at least some of us). You h

            • by Alex Belits (437) *

              The Russians had very little chance grasping anything after the regime broke down, what with the half a millenium spent in real or virtual serfdom, first to samoderzhavie, then to the communist party, and now to the Russian style of government that is almost, but not quite entirely unlike samoderzhavie again.

              So they are animals just like blacks and Arabs? I think, we have heard that crap already from other people.

              My folks were in a better starting position, but we still have a long way to go and we're not ashamed to admit it (well, at least some of us).

              Most immigrants to US are regretting ever stepping into a continent-wide snake pit you call a country, but they are too poor and mentally exhausted for another move across the globe, so they invent elaborate fantasies to justify their choice to come here. If you need any examples, just look at the Jewish immigrants from ex-USSR. All of them, myself included, faced mild discrimination based on their eth

              • If the USSR was that cool than please explain 1956 or the Prague Spring.

                • by tftp (111690)

                  If the USSR was that cool than please explain 1956 or the Prague Spring.

                  If the capitalism is so cool then please explain the Ludlow Massacre, the Kent State shootings, Vietnam war, and even OWS if you want.

                  And if you insist on counting military interventions in neighboring countries, the USA leads that list. The USA routinely installs and removes strongmen around the globe; sometimes with military force, sometimes with money that buys local agitators and hand-picked challengers. Why do you think Egypt

                  • "If the capitalism is so cool then please explain the Ludlow Massacre, the Kent State shootings, Vietnam war, and even OWS if you want. "

                    You're dodging the question, I never put America on a piedestal. It's just strawmen.

                    • by tftp (111690)

                      You're dodging the question

                      There is no exact answer to your question because you postulated that "USSR is so cool" (that wasn't what the GP claimed) and then demanded proof of that statement.

                      No government can be "cool" for everyone. If the government protects me from being robbed, it necessarily restricts rights of the robber. Humans only can choose between several types of the government, from Somalia's anarchy to Uzbekistan's strict dictatorship, with every other country in between.

                      You can compare

                    • I'm living in a post-communist country and have met a few half-Russian guys and they all have this rose colored view of communism.

                      The whole idea of communism was a half-baked mess, make-it-up-as-we-go. People with actual education were dismissed, sent to the Gulag, sometimes executed (someone wanted their flat e.g.), or just given unskilled work. The new intellectual elite was deliberately raised from the worker class, people with intellectual parents were banned from the field of humanities. People beggin

                    • by tftp (111690)

                      I'm living in a post-communist country and have met a few half-Russian guys and they all have this rose colored view of communism.

                      Then perhaps they know something that you don't? Many of your friends (and more people on Slashdot) have somewhat fond memories of the old USSR (of best parts of it, admittedly!) - are they all wrong, despite being there, and you alone are correct, even though you were (probably) living in Eastern Europe then, like in Hungary? Note that in USSR those countries were considered

                    • " As reported, they did lots of spying and snitching in East Germany, but not in USSR "

                      I personally know people who told me that they had to write such reports. Most of these records were destroyed in 1989. The remaining parts got accesibble only in recent years, so you can look up what was written about you.

                      Even famous rock musicians had to write these reports (like http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Gyula_Vikid%C3%A1l [wikipedia.org] )

                    • by tftp (111690)

                      As I said, I don't know what was happening in Hungary. A common Soviet man only knew who was the leader of the Communist party there. Those Communist parties were very young, and they were basically forced upon people (as I understand) so it is logical to believe that leaders of those parties didn't feel all too secure in their chairs. That was not the case in USSR; several generations changed in the country, and by 1950's all the positions of power were held by people who never saw Czar, never owned a bus

                    • by Alex Belits (437) *

                      USSR fell when the government was no longer satisfactory to the society - and that happened because the decay of the society, built into the structure of USSR's socialism, damaged the country so much that there wasn't enough food to get by.

                      There was definitely more than enough food there. Anti-USSR propaganda made plenty of effort to paint "starving Russians" picture, however it was completely baseless, food lacked variety for decades, but there would be heads rolling (well, not literally, but there would be people shot) if government allowed shortages, or anything unhealthy was allowed into the system. The only thing that resembles a "food shortage" was a shortage of sugar around 1989 (I may be a year off in either direction) -- something th

                    • by Alex Belits (437) *

                      The soft dictatorship of the late 70ies and 80ies was a result of financial difficulties. That was when the people in power realized that the system cannot be sustained indefinitely and there's a need for smooth transition to capitalism.

                      You can't have "financial difficulties" in a country that is run as a giant nonprofit -- there is no place to lose money in the first place. This is just not possible -- not until there is some massive shortage of natural resources or population losing capability to work so production is lost, however neither of those things would be cured by Capitalism.

                    • by Alex Belits (437) *

                      Absolutely. As a social system it was unsustainable.

                      Even USSR implementation of Socialism sustained itself pretty well for over 70 years, across various governments that made all kinds of stupid mistakes unrelated to the ideas of Capitalism and Communism. There is absolutely no evidence that is is "unsustainable", other than the fact that it was eventually destroyed, however since all social and economic systems are eventually destroyed, this is irrelevant.

                      "Communism is unsustainable" is a propaganda formula that is based on a dogma that claims, people can n

                    • by Alex Belits (437) *

                      Even famous rock musicians had to write these reports (like http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Gyula_Vikid%C3%A1l [wikipedia.org] [wikipedia.org] )

                      Hungary is not USSR.

                      Accept it, all post-Stalin examples of egregious abuse by "Communists" that you know, are from outside of USSR.

                    • by tftp (111690)

                      Socialism in USSR lacked the will to live. It was not energetic enough to compete on the international scene. Messages from abroad, with pictures of NYC city streets paved with gold, were not helpful.

                      Many problems could be prevented by stopping Gorbachev [lib.rus.ec] (you may want to follow this link.) There would be no Chechnya, for example.

                      In other words, the path to a Star Trek replicator goes through Communism, and not the other way around.

                      The path to any sane society goes through people who are moral. This i

                    • by Alex Belits (437) *

                      Also note that Communists are not getting much of the vote - only hopeless idealists vote for them.

                      Communist party in modern Russia has very little to do with Communist ideas and often associates with Nationalists (thus pissing off all intellectuals and ethnically non-Russian people), however it's still second most popular party just by association. The third place by popularity is split between Socialists (SR or "Just Russia") and weirdos (LDPR) that are basically bullshit-slinging clowns when it comes to any proclaimed ideology.

                      On the other hand, all prominently pro-Capitalism and Libertarian parties h

                    • I agree, but only because I'm not that familiar with the history of the USSR as of my own country.

                    • Hungary started to borrow from Western countries at that time to get some high tech stuff. (E.g. modernizing the Metallurgical plant in my hometown with Japanese industrial computers.)

                    • by Alex Belits (437) *

                      Socialism in USSR lacked the will to live. It was not energetic enough to compete on the international scene. Messages from abroad, with pictures of NYC city streets paved with gold, were not helpful.

                      I agree with that, however I don't see Capitalism as having "will to live" at this point, either. There just isn't much of an opposition, and its propaganda is still effective.

                      Many problems could be prevented by stopping Gorbachev [lib.rus.ec] (you may want to follow this link.) There would be no Chechnya, for example.

                      As much as I would be happy if such a thing happened, it's not that simple. I can't claim that I know Gorbachev's motivation, but I have fairly good idea about what Communists, at least sane and smart ones, were thinking.

                      Let me elaborate on this, putting some things in modern terms and context.

                      Communists' theory claims that government

        • by Sigg3.net (886486)

          Painting Islam in broad strokes as fascism is not very helpful nor descriptive. Most muslims are moderate and/or secular.

          Remember that Islam is some 80% jewish/christian theology at the least, and that it is regional culture and real world politics that prompted what we do recognize as fascist movements to grow.

          You want the moderate and intellectual muslims, as well as like-minded jews and christians, on your side against totalitatianism.

    • by DarkOx (621550) on Friday February 24, 2012 @07:21PM (#39154151) Journal

      Maybe but URL filtering in under 1ms with any sizeable list of URLs is going to be pretty darn impossible. Its pretty tough to do much of any thing to traffic that requires any sort of lookup that fast. I mean DRAM fetch is 5+ns.

      Even if you can search your lookup table fast enough keep in mind you are not just comparing values at fixed offsets like NAT and IP Access lists and similar need to you first have to figure out is this traffic http? Locate the host header and read until new line. Non of that is especially time consuming but its still going to be a chuck of that already tight ms.

      • by Zan Lynx (87672) on Friday February 24, 2012 @07:38PM (#39154321) Homepage

        1 millisecond is 1,000 microseconds or 1,000,000 nanoseconds. A 2 GHz CPU runs at least one instruction every nanosecond and usually more like 6-12 instructions. As you say, the DRAM fetch is significant, but a well-designed B-tree database already loaded in RAM reduces the impact because of good algorithm design.

        It's like an eternity in CPU time.

        Of course, you can't write the code in Python, Perl or Ruby. You have to use C++.

      • by Anonymous Coward on Friday February 24, 2012 @07:39PM (#39154329)

        Not as difficult as it seems. A Bloom Filter of 60-million URLs would only take up 75MB. With only 64 gigs of ram, you could reliably blacklist billions of URLs in a deterministic amount of time.

        • by rtb61 (674572)

          With IPv6 and web sites capable of running multiple IP addresses literally thousands of them, you are talking billions of addresses.

          They of course will take the easy route, forget black lists, they will go with white lists.

          Block every IP and only allow cleared ones through. They are absolutely not interested in the benefit to the country or people, they are only interested in keeping power, psychopathically feeding their own individual ego and lusts.

          White lists create their own problem, as does wirel

          • creating a national censorship scheme around a white list is a terrible idea. you'd be painting a target on ever site on the list. talk about making it easy for Anonymous and their skiddie freedom fighters to give you a hard time.
      • by Thiez (1281866)

        It sounds quite doable to me. All http requests are independent and thus can be evaluated in parallel by whatever number of machines they're willing to throw at the problem. Finding out if any single http request is in their database in 1ms should be trivial.

        • by tftp (111690)

          All http requests are independent and thus can be evaluated in parallel by whatever number of machines they're willing to throw at the problem.

          It should be also mentioned that this evaluation can be done in hardware. A single FPGA can implement multiple matching circuits, and you can have thousands of FPGAs in the system. It is also perfectly scalable.

  • Only Pakistan? (Score:4, Insightful)

    by SolitaryMan (538416) on Friday February 24, 2012 @06:35PM (#39153743) Homepage Journal
    May be Pakistan is the only country that didn't manage to keep this secret. You wait for it and this will be everywhere. I wonder what country would love to block Wikileaks or The Pirate Bay, for example.
    • by shokk (187512)

      They'll block Wikileaks the way Westetn nations block South American cocaine and Afghan opiates. Better to just keep on prosecuting?!

  • ...what they could make of themselves if they used some of that brain power(and money) towards more constructive things.
    • by crutchy (1949900)
      ...like marketing internet control technology to other countries, including the US?

      seems like they're on their way to a winner, what with SOPA and PIPA and all that
  • Easy fix (Score:4, Funny)

    by fred911 (83970) on Friday February 24, 2012 @06:53PM (#39153913)

    Just append the urls determined to be unholly to the Koran.

    They already have the infrastructure to punish infidels.

  • by wbr1 (2538558) on Friday February 24, 2012 @07:14PM (#39154063)
    ...that this is one of our most important allies in the war on terror. I wonder how much of the billions we give them will be spent on this while we stand idly by. Remember the US of A and its allies have carte blanche to do what we tell others is wrong. Greed and hypocracy make the world go 'round.
    • The US government is under no allusions about Pakistan being an allie to the US in fighting terrorism or any other thing else for that matter. The bulk of their military and civilian aid has been on hold since shortly after the Bin Laden raid. The chance of the aid hold becoming permanent is very high right now. The majority of Americans from every political viewpoint wants an end to US handouts to anyone. Egypt, UN, Palestinian, and Pakistani aid is especially vulnerable. The Israeli aid is the only packag

  • 50 million URLs (Score:4, Interesting)

    by DigiShaman (671371) on Friday February 24, 2012 @07:14PM (#39154071) Homepage

    Why not just block everything and only allow what's whitelisted? Examples to include in the whitelist are Corporations, Universities, and other governmental sites. All others seen as non-islamic get blocked outright. If you're not on the list, you simply fill out a form for internal review and hopefully added to the whitelist.

    If they're going for total control, do it right. Better yet, just create an entirely new Pakistani network without any outside peering. A pakistani version of Wikipedia could be translated and updated via an air-gapped network scheme.

    And no, I'm not the first person to think of this. I'm not that much smarter than everyone else :-P

    • Given the state of the Middle East and the radical Islamic movement, I'm really surprised that an entirely new Islamic Internet hasn't already been thought of and joined by other islamic participating nations.

      Two Internets. The rest of the world, and the Islamic one.

      • by Jawnn (445279)

        Given the state of the Unites States and the radical Christian movement, I'm really surprised that an entirely new Fundamentalist Internet hasn't already been thought of and joined by other participating nations.

        Two Internets. The rest of the world, and the religious nut-bag one.

        TFTFY.
        Seriously, it's not an "Islam" problem, and more than it's a Christian problem (or Judaism, or Pastfarianism, or etc.). Trying to force one set of superstitious beliefs (and yes, that is precisely what they are to everyone besides the "true believers"), whether the force be one of law or the point of a sword, on the rest of us is a recipe for disaster. Always. The great minds of The Enlightenment figured this out. They even managed to get that notion codified into the defining documents of a new rep

    • Why not just block everything and only allow what's whitelisted? Examples to include in the whitelist are Corporations...

      My corporation makes automatic koran burners.

      (NATO is a huge customer.)

  • So if they mostly blocked porn websites, it would be nice if they shared it with me so I can... ahem... train my parental control software ?
    Yeah, right...

  • by kawabago (551139) on Friday February 24, 2012 @08:38PM (#39154795)
    It's a shame to waste resources trying to stop the few who can read from doing so.
    • "If those books are in agreement with the Quran, we have no need of them; and if these are opposed to the Quran, destroy them."

      - Caliph Umar, ordering the destruction of the Library of Alexandria

  • That dude with the wayward boat with the sharp propeller did a pretty good job of blocking sites. Is he for hire?

  • block 50 million urls, 100 million spring up the next day. block those, and 200 million more pop up. it's a game of whack-a-mole you can never win. so they'll waste all this money, instead of just letting their people be free. of course a lot of it is porn and thought critical of religion, and this is why they hate it. because it represents their end: the end of the thought control of an oppressive system, this one based on religion. they know what they are fighting: they are fighting their extinction. and by "they" i mean those who think you can control or dominate others, based on religion or whatever basis that unfortunately some in society still believe is right. it just makes your society weak and violent and cruel

  • by Lehk228 (705449)
    block outside DNS servers, override blacklisted DNS resolution to a blocked page. much faster than trying to scan and intercept in real time make the filter part of the infrastructure
  • I feel for their citizens.....BUT nothing we can do.nor should we do anything until their citizens make a stand. If they are not willing to fight for their freedoms why should we help. When they don't even lift there own fingers
  • They have the Taliban in their backyard. Their IT department has already developed a very effective "fire" wall...mainly just "fire": http://yro.slashdot.org/story/11/12/24/008227/taliban-seizes-and-burns-pcs-cell-phones-to-stop-obscenity [slashdot.org]

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