We don’t just follow stories, we follow up. Last fall, we revealed how Pakistan had acquired the services of a controversial Canada-based company to help build a nationwide “web monitoring system.” Our story went viral. Now, we’re checking in to see what has happened since.

This week, I’m following up on a story we published a few months ago about how plans for a web monitoring system could give the government considerable power over digital content without due process.

After our story was published, the country’s national telecommunications regulator, Pakistan Telecom Authority (PTA), was initially quick to respond:

Our story was widely followed up by leading news media outlets in Pakistan, including Dawn and Geo English. You can read their coverage here, here, here and here

Earlier this week, PTA told Coda Story the web monitoring system is now fully operational across Pakistan.

Human rights groups and free speech organizations have long expressed concerns about the lack of transparency in how Pakistan monitors digital content. In Transparency International’s 2019 Corruption Perception Index, Pakistan ranked 120th out of 180 countries, dropping three places from 2018. 

Pakistan’s government has also approved new rules for regulating online content. Social media companies will be obliged to help law enforcement agencies access user data and remove online content deemed unlawful.