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Twitter shutdown in Pakistan on the cards?

KARACHI: Pakistan Telecommunication Authority (PTA) has threatened to shut down popular micro-blogging website, Twitter, in Pakistan as it’s reportedly not complying orders to remove sacrilegious content from its pages.

PTA told the Senate Standing Committee that Facebook, YouTube and other social media platforms had complied with its orders, but Twitter has not.

Pakistan’s Telecom Authority on Wednesday informed the Senate Standing Committee that it had threatened social media website Twitter with a ban if it does not comply with its directions to block objectionable content. The authority cited an Islamabad High Court directive to the telecom authority asking it to issue a final warning to Twitter.

Nisar Ahmed, director general of the authority’s internet policy and web analysis, told the committee that Twitter had not responded to its notices. The authority praised Facebook, YouTube and other social media platforms that had complied with the government’s orders.

On July 21, the Islamabad High Court (IHC) had 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 had 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.

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.

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