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Wikipedia blocked in Pakistan on account of blasphemous content

Islamabad, February 4, 2023 – The Pakistan Telecommunication Authority (PTA) has blocked Wikipedia due to the website’s refusal to remove allegedly offensive or blasphemy material.

Earlier, the telecom regulator had degraded the portal’s services in the country, The News reported Saturday.

When a PTA spokesperson was contacted late Friday night and inquired about the blocking of Wikipedia, the official confirmed that “yes” it had been blocked.

On the instruction of the high court, the PTA degraded — disrupting and slowing access to the encyclopedia — website for 48 hours because there was blasphemous content on it, The News reported.

The PTA spokesperson stated that Wikipedia was approached for blocking or removal of the said content by issuing a notice under applicable law and court order(s).

An opportunity for a hearing was also provided; however, the platform neither complied by removing the blasphemous content nor appeared before the authority.

Given the intentional failure on part of the platform to comply with the directions of PTA, the services of Wikipedia were degraded for 48 hours with the direction to block/remove the reported contents, The News reported.

In case of non-compliance by Wikipedia, the platform has been blocked within Pakistan.

The restoration of Wikipedia’s services will be reconsidered if the reported unlawful content is blocked/removed.

Commenting on the development, digital rights activist Usama Khilji criticised the authorities for blocking the information portal.

“Wikipedia, World’s largest encyclopaedia, appears to be blocked in Pakistan by @PTAofficialpk.”

The Bolobhi director said that the courts and regulator must realise that Wikipedia is a crowd-sourced platform where anyone with an account can edit articles, which they can also do instead of blocking the entire website, The News reported. (Agency)

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