‘Twitter could be blocked in Pakistan,’ warns IHC
ISLAMABAD: The Islamabad High Court (IHC) has resented government’s apparent inaction to censor content deemed insulting to Islam on Twitter, and threatened to order blockage of the micro-blogging website if no appropriate action was taken against sacrilegious material online.
In his remarks over non implementation of the court judgment passed on March 31, 2017, Justice Shaukat Aziz Siddiqui of the IHC asked why sacrilegious material was still present on Twitter despite orders for its removal.
He asked the government to write a letter to Twitter authorities on the issue and submit report in the next hearing. He said the court could order blocking of social media sites if blasphemous content is not removed.
The judge said he could have ordered blocking Twitter right away but then the issue would be raised by the politicians that their election campaigns were being affected.
In March 2017, the IHC had directed the authorities concerned to scrub off all blasphemous content from local social media accounts.
It was also ordered by the court that the names of alleged blasphemers be placed on the Exit Control List so that those involved in the “stinking and criminal activities may not escape from lawful proceedings.”
In his response, the chairman of the Pakistan Telecommunication Authority had said that eliminating all blasphemous material from roughly 1.4 billion pages on social media and the internet was an extremely difficult task. “Even shutting down social media would not help, he said, as the websites and pages could still be reached by using proxies.” He added that objectionable pages were being removed with the help of Facebook officials.
On Friday, Justice Siddiqui ordered authorities concerned to write to Twitter, warning he would pass orders to block the social networking website if blasphemous content remained online till the next hearing.
In the past, Pakistan had banned Facebook for not removing blasphemous content for two weeks in 2010 while YouTube was also blocked countrywide from 2012 to 2016 over blasphemous material.