According to PTA, despite being given an opportunity to be heard, no response was given by the online platform. With the ban, millions of users will lose access to academic content.
Authorities in Pakistan have blocked the online encyclopedia, Wikipedia, for publishing “obscene material”. The Pakistan Telecommunication Authority (PTA) earlier this week informed the Wikipedia administration that they have 48 hours to block or remove offensive content or else access to the site will be terminated.
A PTA spokesperson said, “The platform (Wikipedia) was also given an opportunity to be heard but neither complied to remove the offensive content nor did they appear before the authority. The spokesperson added that Wikipedia will remain blocked in Pakistan until it removes “all objectionable content”. It was not immediately clear what content the PTA wanted to block.’
Attack on freedom of speech
The Wikimedia Foundation, a non-profit fund that manages Wikipedia, said the blog “denies the world’s fifth most populous country access to the largest repository of free knowledge.”
A statement from the foundation said that if the ban continues, these users in Pakistan will lose access to knowledge, history and culture.
Some circles of the country have expressed concern over this decision of the Pakistani regulator. According to free speech campaigners, the move also reflects growing government censorship of Pakistan’s print and electronic media. “There is now a concerted effort to control more and more content on the Internet,” said Osama Khalji, a digital rights activist.
Internet censorship in Pakistan
Blasphemy is a sensitive issue in Muslim-majority Pakistan, and social media is already banned from posting content deemed blasphemous.
Pakistan blocked YouTube from 2012 to 2016 after a film about the Prophet of Islam was aired on the platform, sparking violent protests across the Muslim world.
In recent years, the country has also blocked popular video-sharing app TikTok several times for broadcasting “immoral” content. Similarly, the PTA has banned popular dating apps including Tinder and streaming app Bigo for indecent, obscene and vulgar content.
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