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Pakistan’s web ban September 6, 2006

Posted by R.S in Internet Censorship, Pakistan.
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The government of Pakistan set up a committee, on 2nd September 2006 to streamline mechanism for screening and blocking websites offering objectionable contents.

Constituted by the Ministry of Information Technology, its Secretary Farrukh Qayyum would preside over the body to examine contents of websites reported or found to be offensive or containing anti-state material.

Representatives of ministries of interior, cabinet, information and broadcasting and security agencies would be part of the body that would operate within the parameters set out in the Amended Telecom Act 2006.

It would evaluate and examine web material besides entertaining public requests for blocking websites and decide cases on merit and advise the Pakistan Telecommunication Authority to take appropriate action.

The decision to constitute the committee to oversee obnoxious websites had been taken following a growing number of public grievances regarding objectionable and hateful material being displayed at various websites.  

Lately Pakistani cyberspace/netizens have been on the receiving end of the governments’ web censorship policies.

On July 26, the Pakistan Telecommunication Authority (PTA) added 34 new Web addresses to the list of sites to which it blocks access. For the most part they were Balouch nationalist sites, online radio stations and sites relating to the Sindhi minority.

Most of the newly-blocked sites are linked to the Baloch nationalist movement, which wants independence for the southwestern province of Balochistan. There has been sporadic fighting between the movement’s armed supporters and government forces in the province for years.

Two Sindhi sites were also added to the blacklist, including one operated by the Washington-based World Sindhi Institute, which defends human rights in the southeastern province of Sindh., while some of the Web addresses on the list do not in fact correspond to any existing website.

The PTA previously ordered the blocking of five websites on April 25, on the grounds that they were posting “misleading information”. Four were Baloch nationalist sites and the fifth was a Hindu extremist site.

Prior to this , the PTA blocked 12 websites on February 28, for posting the controversial cartoons of Prophet Mohammad (pbuh) that were first published in the Danish daily Jyllands-Posten. They included the blog platform Blogspot, which hosted one of the websites that posted the cartoons. Access to the entire platform was blocked within Pakistan, with the result that millions of blogs disappeared from the Pakistani internet.