Pakistan has blocked Wikipedia after the website refused to remove offensive or blasphemous material, according to a media report on Saturday. 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. 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.
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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 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.