Pakistan Telecommunication Authority (PTA) has reportedly blocked several popular websites for hosting ‘unethical’ content.It has been a week since PTA directed ISPs to block access to these websites, among thousands of others. But, the authority has failed to provide a satisfactory reason for the move. When inquired about it, a PTA official said that these sites were hosting ‘improper & unethical’ content, without describing the terms.
Among the blocked websites were Alibaba.com – an online shopping platform, Bloomberg.com – a news platform with a special focus on business and markets, buzzfeed.com – a popular media and entertainment website. Users of Zong, Ufone, Telenor, and Jazz faced difficulty in accessing the mentioned sites.
Interestingly, most representatives within the mobile phone industry were unaware and equally surprised to learn that these sites have been inaccessible in the country for over a week. While some suggested to clear the internet history or restarting devices, others were merely clueless about it. A Telenor official believed that the sites were restricted at the source. Users, on the other hand, were dejected on unannounced censorship on popular websites.
“At first, I thought there was something wrong with my mobile phone. But then I could not access Buzz feed at home for four days either,” said Nida Abbasi, who visits the entertainment website frequently. Shehryar Saeed, a frequent user of Alibaba, also had the same complaint. He keeps visiting the site to buy toys for his children. “I wanted to buy some toys for my children this Eid, but I have been denied access to the portal since May 26.”
PTA had officially denied blocking these websites on Saturday, but its technical support has confirmed receiving orders from the management in this regard.
“The directions come from the Ministry of Interior, which also identifies objectionable or controversial content posted on a particular website and tells the PTA to block it,” a member of PTCL’s technical support team said.
Besides, several thousand other websites are also on the block list along with these sites. It must be mentioned here that popular encrypted messaging app and Whats App competitor, Telegram, has also been banned in Pakistan for nearly two years.