Pakistan blocks Wikipedia after website refuses to remove 'blasphemous' content

Pakistan blocks Wikipedia after website refuses to remove 'blasphemous' content

Wikipedia is a free online encyclopedia, created and edited by volunteers around the world and hosted by the Wikimedia Foundation.

FPJ Web DeskUpdated: Saturday, February 04, 2023, 07:10 PM IST
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Online encyclopedia Wikipedia has been blocked in Pakistan for not “blocking or removing sacrilegious content” within the 48-hour deadline given to the website, according to media reports.

The blacklisting of Wikipedia comes days after the Pakistan Telecom Authority (PTA) degraded Wikipedia services for 48 hours, threatening to block it if the content deemed 'blasphemous' was not deleted, The News newspaper reported.

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

PTA degrades Wikipedia for 48 hours

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.

Wikipedia is a free online encyclopedia, created and edited by volunteers around the world and hosted by the Wikimedia Foundation.

The PTA spokesperson stated that Wikipedia was approached for blocking/removal of the said content by issuing a notice.

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

Other websites blocked in Pakistan

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 restoration of Wikipedia's services will be reconsidered if the reported unlawful content is blocked/removed, the spokesman said.

Social media giants Facebook and YouTube have been blocked in the past over content deemed blasphemous.

Blasphemy is a sensitive issue in Muslim-majority Pakistan.

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