Netizens are reacting strongly to the recent ban on the popular online encyclopedia Wikipedia in Pakistan. Analysts and activists are criticizing the latest move by the Pakistan Telecommunication Authority (PTA).
According to the details, PTA has blocked internet access to Wikipedia in Pakistan due to the website’s refusal to remove allegedly offensive or blasphemy material. Earlier, PTA had degraded the Wikipedia services across Pakistan for not removing the objectionable content.
An opportunity for a hearing was also provided; however, the platform neither complied by removing the blasphemous content nor appeared before the authority. Given the intentional failure on part of the platform to comply with the directions of the PTA, the platform has been blocked within Pakistan.
On the other hand, the decision can be reviewed if Wikipedia either blocks or remove the reported unlawful content on its platform.
Since Wikipedia is a free online encyclopedia often used as a starting point by millions across the world for basic information, the decision to ban it has received a lot of criticism from Pakistani netizens.
Netizens are calling the decision regressive and harmful to Pakistan’s global image. They are also urging Prime Minister Shehbaz Sharif to ask PTA to remove the ban as it blocks access to information.
Experts on digital media have even explained that Wikipedia is a crowdsourced and editable online encyclopedia where anyone with an account can edit articles. PTA can also edit objectionable articles instead of blocking access to the entire website.
Sir @CMShehbaz its mind boggling as how can any country leave alone Pakistan ban #Wikipedia?Pls ask #PTA to remove ban.We visit it read for knowledge&information not to read objectionable stuff.Such laughable tricks in this age are mere a joke.Don’t reverse age of information pls pic.twitter.com/b82Ht40Uuv
— Rauf Klasra (@KlasraRauf) February 4, 2023
It is now confirmed that Wikipedia has been blocked in Pakistan. The action is regressive, harmful for Pakistan’s global image and shows a lack of understanding how crowd sourced/edited online information platforms work. PTA & Government need to review this decision immediately.
— Taimur Malik (@taimur_malik) February 4, 2023
Estonia is 2.7 times smaller than New York but it is the home of Skype and ranks first among 107 countries in NCSI. It's Cyber Defense League outnumbers their military and the country spends €40 million a year on cybersecurity.
While govt in Pakistan has banned Wikipedia.
— Fidato (@tequieremos) February 4, 2023
Algorithm? Chatbot? Machine learning?
If concepts like these are abstract to you, Wikipedia can help: Here's a glossary of terms. 🤖https://t.co/gb0WwtcU4a
— Nighat Dad (@nighatdad) February 4, 2023
Pakistan just blocked Wikipedia.
It amazes me how we find innovative new ways to embarrass ourselves internationally on a regular basis …
— Umar Saif (@umarsaif) February 4, 2023
Pertinent to mention that this is not the first time that PTA has taken notice of objectionable content on the platform. In December 2020, the PTA issued notices to Wikipedia and Google Inc for “disseminating sacrilegious content”.
Pakistan also blocked YouTube from 2012 to 2016. In recent years, the country has also blocked the wildly popular video-sharing app TikTok several times over “indecent” and “immoral” content.