The Pakistan, government’s unabashedly open call for global companies to provide Web filtering technology has been met with an unusual civil society campaign. A group based in Pakistan that calls itself Bolo Bhi wrote directly to eight companies that make a variety of security products, asking them not to satisfy Pakistan’s demand for a firewall that would censor the Web.
In less than a month, five of those eight companies have said they will not respond to Pakistan’s request for proposals, known as an RFP. McAfee was the latest company to do so, with a message on Twitter on Monday afternoon: “McAfee has confirmed that it is not pursuing the Pakistan Firewall RFP.”
The campaign is unusual in that it seeks to name and shame companies before they make a deal with a government that seeks to filter the Internet.
Cisco Systems, which has faced widespread criticism for the deployment of its technology in building the Internet firewall in China, has also said it will not bid on the proposal, as have Verizon and Websense. The holdouts include Huawei of China, one of Pakistan’s staunchest allies.
Advocacy groups like the Center for Democracy and Technology and the Electronic Frontier Foundation have backed the Bolo Bhi campaign. “Sometimes there are lines that companies cannot cross without becoming complicit in human rights violations,” the center opined in a blog post. Somini Sengupta