PM Shehbaz orders immediate restoration of Wikipedia
- Premier constitutes a committee comprising the law, economic affairs, and information ministers for a preliminary examination of the matter
Prime Minister Shehbaz Sharif on Monday ordered the immediate restoration of Wikipedia which was banned by the Pakistan Telecommunication Authority (PTA) last week for not “blocking/removing sacrilegious content”.
Wikipedia - a crowdsourced, online encyclopedia was blocked by the telecom regulator on February 4, for not “blocking/removing sacrilegious content” within the 48-hour deadline given in a move that was widely condemned.
Before blocking the website, the PTA had degraded its services countrywide for not complying with its directives.
However, PM Shehbaz overruled PTA's decision and asked the authority to unblock the website, a handout issued by the PM House said.
Information Minister Marriyum Aurangzeb also tweeted the same.
The premier also constituted a committee comprising the law, economic affairs, and information ministers for a “preliminary examination of the matter”.
It added that the committee held a meeting during which the members of the committee highlighted how Wikipedia was a useful website supporting the “dissemination of knowledge and information for the public, students and the academia”.
“Blocking the site in its entirety was not a suitable measure to restrict access to some objectionable content,” the PMO statement said. “The unintended consequences of this blanket ban, therefore, outweigh its benefits.”
Based on the body’s recommendations, PM Shehbaz ordered the immediate restoration of the website and also constituted a separate cabinet committee headed by IT Minister Aminul Haque and comprising the law, information, commerce, and communication ministers.
The PMO handout defined the cabinet committee’s terms of reference, saying that it would “review the suitability” of the PTA’s move to block Wikipedia.
The committee would also explore and recommend alternative technical measures for the removal or blocking of objectionable content on Wikipedia and other online information sites “in view of our social, cultural and religious sensitivities”.
The statement said the committee would also give other recommendations with the objective of controlling unlawful online content in a “balanced manner”.
The PMO handout added the Ministry of Information and Technology would provide support to the cabinet committee.
“The committee shall present its report with recommendations for consideration of the federal cabinet within a week’s time,” the handout said.
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