After Facebook and Youtube, Pakistan blocks Twitter


- dEsPeraTe cRaNky -

After blocking Facebook and Youtube, Pakistani authorities on Friday further widened the crackdown on websites with blasphemous contents by restricting access to popular social networking website Twitter.

Pakistani users were unable to log into Twitter after internet service providers blocked access to the site.
When users tried to log into site, there browsers displayed a message that said "this site is restricted."

Over the past two days, Pakistan telecommunication authority has blocked websites like Facebook and Youtube, citing "sacrilegious contents" on the websites as the reason for the action.

The crackdown began after the Lahore High Court issued an order for blocking Facebook over a page hosting a contest for blasphemous caricatures of Prophet Mohammad.

Over 450 URLs have been blocked so far by the authorities.

Pakistan telecommunication authority (PTA) on Thursday said that YouTube had been blocked due to "sacrilegious contents" but did not point to specific material on the website that prompted the authorities to block it.

The government acted against both Facebook and YouTube after it failed to persuade the websites to remove the "derogatory material," the statement said.


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Pak netizens up in arms against ban on websites

Pakistan’s cybercitizens have strongly protested against their government’s ban on Facebook, YouTube and about 450 individual web pages across various websites.

Under the umbrella of ‘Defenders of Internet Freedom’, a meeting of concerned professionals, activists and internet users in Karachi noted on Thursday: "This action will have a very negative impact on Pakistan, especially considering that countless small businesses, nonprofit organizations, restaurants, art galleries, magazines, and media outlets use Facebook to conduct day-to-day business and share information with their stakeholders."

There’s anger, and there’s frustration. "When will we learn to react in a way that doesn’t result in us shooting ourselves in the foot? We can write opinion pieces, we can protest," tweets Jehan Ara, president of P@sha, Pakistan software Houses Association. "Instead we do what people have come to expect from us," Ara wrote in her blog. Ara estimates that of the 20 million odd internet users in Pakistan, 2.5 million are on the social networking site.

On Wednesday, Pakistan banned Facebook after a Lahore high court directive on imposing a ban on a Facebook page that announced a competition ‘Everybody Draw Muhammad Day’ asking users to submit drawings of Prophet Muhammad.

A blogger also rued that his Blackberry went on the blink for a while, presumably because authorities clamped down on the service provider on realising Facebook could be accessed through Blackberry.

Lack of tech savvy among authorities seems to also have played a part. Some reports suggest that the court wanted one page banned, the Pakistan Telecommunication Agency reported that a single url could not be banned and thus, the entire site had to be debarred.