The Pakistan Telecommunication Authority (PTA) seems to have changed its mind because on 6 May it reinstated the blocking of blogspot.com (or blogger.com) that it had suspended just four days earlier. As a result, this blog tool is once again inaccessible within Pakistan.
The PTA gave no reason for lifting the blocking on 2 May. In the view of Don’t Block the Blog, a new Pakistan-based collective, it was done “to appease the United Nations” during World Press Freedom Day on 3 May. The authorities are playing “cat and mouse game,” the collective said.
Don’t Block the Blog campaigns for online free expression. It was formed on 3 March, a few days after the PTA blocked access to blogs that posted the controversial Mohammed cartoons.
Reporters Without Borders supports the bloggers and other Internet users who are combatting Internet censorship in Pakistan.
The Don’t Block the Blog banner
Blogspot.com accessible in Pakistan again
Reporters Without Borders today welcomed the action of five ISPs including Paknet, a subsidiary of the Pakistan Telecommunication Company, yesterday in ending the blocking of blogspot.com (or blogger.com). This blog service had been filtered as a result of a ban by the Pakistan Telecommunication Authority (PTA) in February on blogs that had posted the controversial Mohammed cartoons.
In a more recent move, the PTA banned four Baluch nationalist websites on 25 April (see http://www.rsf.org/article.php3?id_article=17508). Reporters Without Borders condemned all of these bans, which were imposed with obtaining a court order.
Twelve websites, including blogger.com, blocked for posting cartoons
Reporters Without Borders is concerned about the decision of the Pakistan Telecommunications Authority (PTA), to block access to twelve websites which posted the cartoons of the prophet Mohammed which appeared in the Danish daily Jyllands-Posten.
The PTA on 28 February ordered Internet Service Providers to block the website blogspot.com (or blogger.com), taking down thousands of weblogs hosted by this tool.
“We believe that the decision to ban a website should only ever be taken by a judge, at the end of a fair trial. It is moreover unacceptable that the order to block a site should go through the PTA, which while apparently aiming at one blog hosted by blogger.com, led to the filtering of all websites sharing the same domain name,” said the organisation.
This order from the PTA comes around ten days after a petition calling on the government to ban the spread of “blasphemous content” through the Internet, was submitted to the Supreme Court. The court on 2 March formally asked the government to take such a step.
The bloggers network Global Voices, which revealed the case on its site, has been posting information about campaigns launched by bloggers to condemn the filtering.
Local access providers have applied the PTA decision by blocking access to all sites whose URL incorporates blogspot.com, that is all sites hosted by this service. It is however technically possible to ban access solely to a blog causing a problem.
Go to Reporters Without Borders’ Handbook for Bloggers and Cyberdissidents, that gives practical advice about how get round Internet filtering:
Create your blog with Reporters without borders: www.rsfblog.org