Twitter reinstates access to `blasphemous` accounts in Pakistan

Last Updated: Wednesday, June 18, 2014 - 21:14

Zee Media Bureau

Islamabad: Popular microbloging site Twitter has reinstated access to dozens of user accounts and specific tweets in Pakistan that it had blocked last month on the request of the government.

According to Chilling Effect Clearinghouse website, an organization devoted to protecting legal online activity, Twitter was asked by the Pakistan Telecommunication Authority last month to withhold the content that was considered as “blasphemous” or “unethical”.

“On May 18, we made an initial decision to withhold content in Pakistan based on information provided to us by the Pakistan Telecommunication Authority,” it said.
Twitter said it had now dropped the ban because the watchdog had not followed up its initial requests with further documentation.

“We have re-examined the requests and, in the absence of additional clarifying information from Pakistani authorities, have determined that restoration of the previously withheld content is warranted. The content is now available again in Pakistan.”

Twitter said that consistent with its long standing policies, it provided notice to all of the affected account holders and published the actioned take down requests on Chilling Effects to maximise transparency regarding its decision.

Pakistan Telecommunication Authority officials earlier confirmed that the watchdog regularly sends advisories for blocking objectionable materials.

In 2012, YouTube was banned in Pakistan for posting a film which was termed as blasphemous, triggering widespread riots.
Earlier, Facebook also blocked some accounts including progressive Laal music band, after Pakistan complained about the contents.

However, the blockade on Laal was lifted in days after severe criticism by music lovers and social activists in Pakistan.

Twitter introduced the ability to selectively block tweets on a country-by-country basis in 2012 - a move criticised at the time by freedom-of-speech organisations.

(With Agency Inputs)

First Published: Wednesday, June 18, 2014 - 21:14
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