PTA: Where is the List of Blocked Websites?

PTA-logoIssue of blocked websites has been discussed countless times on this website. We, at ProPakistani, have always supported blockade of websites that contain obscene content or are blasphemous in nature.

In our viewpoint, blocking such websites is in accordance with the law and such procedures are protected by the court orders.

However, at the same time, we always proposed the authorities concerned to make the list of blocked websites public and the reasons for their blockade. This way, the criticism flowing towards PTA (for censoring internet) could be molded to a point that everyone would exactly know the reason behind blockade of any particular website.

This was specifically necessary to make the whole process (of blocking websites) transparent as Government’s ability of block websites in the country could otherwise be used for personal and political purposes.

Blocking Websites for Personal and Political Reasons:

Unfortunately, this has happened recently. Keep reading to know the complete story.

First, check below this letter that was sent by PTA to all ISPs last month:

Dear All,

You are requested to block the website links  in mention below file immediately at URL Level without disrupting the main websites. In addition also flush out system cache and confirm the blocking of the links (blocking must be ensured prior to confirmation),   through return email latest by 1600 hours today i.e. 4th August, 2012 , positvely, please.

  • http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=hkumTgc68NM
  • http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=j5SxdubU2wo&feature=relmfu
  • http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=EX1pdqKVG38&feature=relmfu
  • http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=OhDN0rT3WXo&feature=relmfu
  • http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=H7mCtWU4tW8&feature=related
  • http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=8rOr1EbEyVM&feature=related
  • http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=GGbyYdbL9ZM&feature=related
  • http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=civC1yVp4lc&feature=related
  • http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=lYBaHFOeDQU
  • http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=4xrDOEqxKqU&feature=related
  • http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=ueaLUt1MSt0&feature=relmfu
  • http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=W0THh7wMc90&feature=relmfu
  • http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=m4Xf9WArwSA&feature=relmfu
  • http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=clztMR-YNII&feature=relmfu
  • http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=nntDytJbk8o&feature=relmfu

Regards,
_____________

Deputy Director (Enforcement),
Enforcement Division, PTA HQ,
F-5/1, Islamabad.

This enforcement letter from Pakistan Telecommunication Authority had 15 YouTube links, that are currently blocked on majority of ISPs (that we have checked).

Interestingly, these YouTube videos were neither blasphemous nor were inappropriate in nature. Instead, these videos were coverage of a press conference of a TV host in which she alleged her ex-husband (who happens to be the MD of TV channel) for various misdeeds.

We are yet to ascertain what criteria was considered when it was decided to block these 15 URLs. It is also not clear that who exactly was responsible for taking the decision for blocking of these videos.

Only Allah knows how this MD of a TV channel was able to get 15 URLs blocked, most probably through high-level influence, but we have a proven fact now that blockade of websites is very much possible based on political and influential pressures from government and corporate bodies.

We aren’t sure how many such enforcement orders have been issued by PTA so far, which had directed the ISPs to block websites/URLs based on personal reasons.

It is about time that PTA should make a list available to public revealing each and every website/URL they have directed to be blocked on Pakistani ISPs. This is particularly important at a time when elections are just ahead and there are chances of massive website blocking for political reasons.

Tech reporter with over 10 years of experience, founder of ProPakistani.PK