The Pakistan Telecommunication Authority (PTA) has completely banned the ‘free’ encyclopedia Wikipedia services in Pakistan after it failed to remove ”sacrilegious content” from the website.
Wikipedia has been blocked in Pakistan.
Today, Pakistan’s Telecommunications Authority blocked @Wikipedia and other Wikimedia projects in the country.
Follow the thread for more information 🧵⬇️ (1/4)https://t.co/8xM73if9B2
— Wikimedia Foundation (@Wikimedia) February 4, 2023
According to a statement from the Wikimedia Foundation, “On 1 February, we received a notification from the Pakistan Telecommunication Authority stating ‘the services of Wikipedia have been degraded for 48 hours’ for failure to remove content deemed ‘unlawful’. As of 3 February, our data shows this has extended into a full block”.
The statement also stated that Blocking ‘Wikipedia’ in Pakistan would deny the fifth most populous nation in the world access to the “largest free knowledge repository” and would “deprive everyone access to Pakistan’s history and culture”.
Recently, PTA issued a final 48-hour deadline notice to Wikipedia and ordered it to remove sacrilegious content from its page, but after it failed to comply with the order in the prescribed period of time, the telecommunication regulatory completely blocked access to the Wikipedia website across Pakistan. PTA also announced this on their official Twitter handle.
Press Release: PTA has degraded Wikipedia services in the country on account of not blocking / removing sacrilegious contents. pic.twitter.com/h6ZWuf8TnR
— PTA (@PTAofficialpk) February 1, 2023
In the Tweet, PTA also revealed that the authority had also afforded Wikipedia an opportunity for a personal hearing. However, neither they removed the offensive religious content nor did any representative of Wikipedia appeared for the hearing.
”The ban will be lifted, once the reported content is removed from Wikipedia.” PTA officials said.
In Pakistan, blasphemy is a very sensitive topic, and to deal with it the government of Pakistan has made very strict laws and has set heavy punishments for perpetrators. Since Wikipedia is a free, crowdsourced, editable online encyclopedia, sometimes it becomes very difficult to verify the information that has been put on the platform.
It is also worth mentioning that previously PTA had also banned YouTube across Pakistan for almost two years over offensive content.