‘PTA be allowed to block all objectionable websites’

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‘PTA be allowed to block all objectionable websites’

ISLAMABAD: The ministry of religious affairs asked security agencies concerned on Thursday to allow Pakistan Telecommunication Authority (PTA) to block all websites containing blasphemous, anti-state and/or objectionable content as soon as possible.

The request was forwarded during an inter-ministerial meeting here.

An official, who attended the meeting, said that the meeting was attended by officials of ministries of interior, information technology as well as the Pakistan Telecommunication Authority (PTA).

During the meeting, the ministry asked security agencies to give clearance to PTA to block all such websites without any further delay.

The official, who spoke on condition of anonymity, said that before blocking these websites, security agencies would investigate the people who put such “hate material on the internet, their purpose” and locate their operational base.

Terming the whole process a lengthy one, officials representing the religious ministry said that giving PTA clearance to block any website would certainly take time.

Minister for Religious Affairs and Interfaith Harmony Sardar Muhammad Yousuf addressed a press conference after the meeting, urging the government and departments concerned to quickly give clearance to the PTA to block all websites containing hate material.

Recently, Yousuf said, there had been a surge in the number of websites containing blasphemous content.

He said that while considering the severity of the issue, the ministry held a meeting with officials of ministries concerned and PTA, recommending blocking such websites “on a war footing”.

“The content on these websites is defaming our religion, causing unrest and might lead to sectarian violence in the country,” he insisted.

The ministry of religious affairs had set up a special monitoring/complaint cell in 2013 to monitor websites containing blasphemous, objectionable, pornography, biased, anti-state, sectarian content on social media as well as on internet.

According to the monitoring cell, the ministry had received 8,670 complaints against the appearance of blasphemous content on social media.

The ministry kept PTA in the loop and subsequently action was taken against 700 websites containing objectionable content.

“At least 565 websites have so far been blocked,” he said

“Our responsibility is to point out blasphemous content on social media and internet and inform the competent authority to block (all such) websites,” he said.

The Express Tribune