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Wikipedia ban: PTA draws fire from users

Before blocking it completely, the PTA had “degraded” the portal’s services in the country

By Web Desk
February 04, 2023
A representational image.
A representational image.

Pakistan Telecommunication Authority (PTA) has drawn widespread criticism from Twitterati for banning the expansive online encyclopedia, Wikipedia, in the country.

Following the confirmation Saturday that the online encyclopedia has been banned in the country, internet users have been furious and criticising the move as excessive and detrimental to the country’s academia.

Before blocking it completely, the Pakistan Telecommunication Authority (PTA) had “degraded” the portal’s services in the country.

When a PTA spokesperson was contacted late on Friday night and inquired about the blocking of Wikipedia, the official confirmed that “yes” it had been blocked.

While internet users had been critical of the decision that came on February 1 to “degrade” the platform, the verdict on the complete ban is unanimous: people are furious and are taking to Twitter to slam PTA for a move that makes little to no sense to them.

One user termed the move “regressive” and “harmful” and stated: “It is now confirmed that Wikipedia has been blocked in Pakistan. The action is regressive, harmful for Pakistan’s global image and shows a lack of understanding how crowd sourced/edited online information platforms work. PTA & Government need to review this decision immediately.”

Some users claimed that the ban was "against human rights." One person took to the microblogging platform to say: "Wikipedia is blocked in Pakistan. Information is knowledge & people have [the] right to know[ledge]. Blocking a source of information is against [the] fundamental rights of citizens. BTW, will this ban help recover [the] economy/security of the country? Ban must be lifted. #wikipediaBlocked"

Another wrote: “Pakistan at its best, the only thing Pakistan can do is to ban everything. Now it's time to ban Wikipedia. Earlier Pakistan is known to [have] censor[ed] films & once PTA banned YouTube as well for 2 years. A CJ compelled PTA to register an FIR against YouTube at that time, lol”

Yet another user shared a more detailed take on the matter, writing, “Priorities! Wikipedia is an ocean of wisdom. Banning it for a few drops refuse won't make sense unless you know what the priorities are. Meanwhile no ban on fanatics/hate mongers.”

He further pointed out that, unlike social media links, banning access to a few stand-alone pages of Wikipedia isn't difficult. He referred to the move as an “overkill” and “an act of passion”.

“If PTA, other authorities spent this much time on banning hate literature/ radical content on internet we would have managed to defeat the specter of terrorism, connected conspiracy theories and extremism a long time ago. But as I said priorities. Moral policing takes precedence.”