Pak govt blacks out social media in wake of Islamist protests

The Imran Khan government in Pakistan on Friday announced a ban on social media websites including Facebook, Twitter, WhatsApp and Instagram till 3 pm, in the wake of violent Islamist protests against France.

The Pakistan Telecommunication Authority (PTA) has been directed to close down social media websites and apps for a few hours. The blocked sites and apps include Facebook, Instagram, YouTube, Twitter and TikTok.n

The move comes a day after the Pakistan Electronic Media Regulatory Authority banned all TV and radio coverage of the proscribed Tehreek-e-Labbaik Pakistan (TLP).

TLP is engaged in a days-long protest against France over depiction of Prophet Muhammad in cartoons in that country. The Islamist group is demanding the expulsion of the French envoy to Pakistan and snapping of diplomatic ties. France has asked its citizens to leave the country.

According to the statement issued by the Pakistan government, "Complete access to social media platforms (Twitter, Facebook, WhatsApp, YouTube and Telegram) may be blocked from 1100hrs to 1500hrs on 16th April 2021 across the country.”

Last year, the government formed a new draconian social media lawn titled "Removal and Blocking of Unlawful Online Content (Procedure, Oversight and Safeguards) Rules 2020," under the Prevention of Electronic Crime Act 2016 (PECA).

As per the ambit of new rules, it includes all social media users, social media companys', service providers, website owners or information systems.

Under the new rules, they cannot publish, host, display, change, transmit, update or share any content that belongs to someone else, is blasphemous, pedophilic, pornographic, is against the religious, cultural, ethnic sensitivities and beliefs, harms minors, or threatens the security, integrity of Pakistan's defence or public order.



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