Twitter restores access to blocked content in Pakistan

Microblogging site says it has changed its decision after the government failed to provide sufficient clarification.


Afp June 18, 2014
Twitter has restored access inside Pakistan to dozens of tweets and accounts, after blocking them last month following official complaints about "blasphemous" content. PHOTO: AFP/FILE

ISLAMABAD: Twitter has restored access inside Pakistan to dozens of tweets and accounts, after blocking them last month following official complaints about 'sensitive' content, in a move hailed by free speech activists.

The microblogging site said it had changed its May 18 decision - to restrict access to the material from within Pakistan in order to comply with local laws - after the government failed to provide sufficient clarification.

"On May 18, 2014, we made an initial decision to withhold content in Pakistan based on information provided to us by the Pakistan Telecommunication Authority (PTA)," the Internet company said in a statement posted on the Chilling Effects Clearinghouse website.

"We have re-examined the requests and, in the absence of additional clarifying information from Pakistani authorities, have determined that restoration of the previously withheld content is warranted. The content is now available again in Pakistan."

Chilling Effects is a collaboration between several US law schools which monitors attempts to suppress online content. Twitter works in partnership with the site to publicise requests to withhold its content.

Sana Saleem, a co-founder of the Bolo Bhi non-profit group that advocates free speech, said: "We're very glad Twitter has reversed its decision and not gone the Facebook route.

"There was significant pressure and so we're very happy. We've also been talking with them."

Facebook earlier this month blocked the popular page of a liberal Pakistani band Laal at the request of the government, angering activists campaigning against censorship. Days later it reversed its decision.

Saleem and other organisations have questioned whether PTA has the constitutional authority to forward such requests to foreign Internet companies, and have called for greater judicial oversight.

She added that the process was open to abuse and was used to suppress political criticism.

"We have an extremely weak legal framework and it's used to limit dissent, or things like blocking Wikipedia pages on breast cancer."

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COMMENTS (13)

Mohsin | 6 years ago | Reply

Why must everyone be reminded of this? Only two things can come out of this stupid headline:

1) More people flocking to see what the blasphemous content is 2) More lunatics taking to the street to protest it

Does it really matter what anyone actually says? Or can we for once focus on OUR thoughts and actions?

unbelievable | 6 years ago | Reply

Who forces anyone to view tweets? Trying to control internet/social media is a full time job which provides little reward - you have bigger fish to fry.

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