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Hi, Pakistan? You do know anyone can edit Wikipedia, right? You don't have to ask

Telecoms authority has 'degraded' access and threatened total ban while it waits for 'blasphemous' content to be removed

Pakistan's Telecommunications Authority has "degraded" Wikipedia service in the country on the grounds that the crowdsourced encyclopedia was not censoring "sacrilegious" content, and warned it may block the site altogether.

A tweet from the Authority (PTA) explains that it approached Wikipedia and asked the website to remove unspecified content it calls "blasphemous." The PTA said a hearing was provided, but Wikipedia did not appear.

"Given the international failure on part of the platform to comply with the directions of PTA, the services of Wikipedia have been degraded for 48 hours with the direction to block/remove the reported contents. In case of non-compliance by Wikipedia the platform will be blocked within Pakistan," said a press release from the authority.

PTA added that restoration of the site would only occur if Wikipedia removed the "reported unlawful contents."

Which reads a lot like the PTA isn't aware that anyone can edit Wikipedia entries – so it could remove the content itself if it wanted to … and could convince other editors its edits are justified.

Wikipedia thus joins a list of internet giants that have been censored and/or threatened by the PTA.

From 2012 to 2016, YouTube was blocked in the country for failing to remove anti-Islamic films and was deemed to serve up "vulgar, indecent and immoral" content.

In early 2016, 429,343 websites were deemed "smut." ISPs were reportedly expected to implement the blocks "at the domain level," causing massive levels of headache to the nation's IT professionals.

TikTok has been banned at least four times.

Pakistan also regularly degrades or blocks sites during protests. In 2017, Facebook, Twitter and Instagram were all blocked as clashes with law enforcement occurred in Faizabad. In April 2021, social media – Facebook, Twitter, WhatsApp, and Telegram – was cut for just four hours. And last May, the internet went offline altogether during a march protesting the ousting of prime minister Imran Khan.

The Register looks forward to what happens when Pakistani authorities take issue with the output of ChatGPT. ®

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