For Immediate Release
Blocked, Denied, Censored: 15,756
Karachi: As an organization focused on policy making and implementation we urge the Pakistan Telecommunication Authority (PTA) to make public the list of websites it has blocked thus far and discontinue unconstitutional ad hoc blocking of websites. While responding to a suo moto notice by the Chief Justice of Pakistan, the PTA chairman Muhammad Yasin, stated that:
“Up till now a total of 15,756 website links (including* blasphemous and pornographic) have been blocked.”
There have been very few instances where the PTA has publicly announced statistics on the number of websites it has blocked. However, none of the URLs of the website have been made public neither is the method of determining what qualifies a website to be objectionable. The PTA continues to use ‘blasphemous & pornographic content’ as an excuse to block websites, some of which belong to religious minority groups and political dissenters. For a federal body like PTA transparency is crucial, ad hoc blocking is unconstitutional and undemocratic. Mr.Yasin’s statement in the court stating the 15,756 includes blasphemous and pornographic content makes it clear that the PTA continues to use blasphemy and pornography as a smokescreen for their lack of transparency and for unquestionable authority.
Civil society groups and netizens continue to partake in campaigns and voice their concerns about ad hoc blocking of websites. We urge the PTA to comply with the right to information act and make public both it’s list of blocked websites and criteria of blocking websites. As per the constitutional petition on fundamental rights online, the PTA is under a stay order from the Sindh High Court stating that the act of ad hoc blocking is unconstitutional and therefore illegal. The PTA must uphold the rule of law and uphold the rights of netizens in Pakistan.
- We call on netizens in Pakistan to report URLs of websites blocked without due notifications from the PTA to firstname.lastname@example.org
- We urge the PTA to respond to our request for information.
Contact: Sana Saleem – Bolo Bhi
Bolo Bhi means ‘Speak up’, we are an organization with focus on advocacy, policy and research. Our focus areas include human rights with focus on gender and minority rights, internet freedom and privacy. We believe it is crucial to bridge the gap between rights advocates, policy makers, media and average citizens. Bridging the gap enables collective strength and concentrated focus on the areas that require attention.
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