Pakistan ‘degrades’ Wikipedia, warns of complete block over ‘sacrilegious’ content

Pakistan has “degraded” Wikipedia in the country for 48 hours for not removing “sacrilegious contents” and warned of fully blocking the site if the online encyclopedia fails to comply with the directions.

The Pakistan Telecommunication Authority, the nation’s telecom regulator, said Wednesday afternoon that it had approached Wikipedia to block or remove certain “blasphemous” content by issuing court orders, but said the online encyclopedia neither complied nor appeared before the authority.

If the “intentional failure” on Wikipedia’s part persists, the regulator will move to block the online encyclopedia within the country, it warned.

“The restoration of the services of Wikipedia will be reconsidered subject to blocking / removal of the reported unlawful contents. PTA is committed to ensuring a safe online experience for all Pakistani citizens according to local laws,” the regulator said.

The regulator did not elaborate on what content it had asked Wikipedia to remove.

It’s not the first time that Pakistan has raised concerns over content it sees on popular platforms and sought to control the flow. The South Asian market briefly blocked TikTok in 2021 over “immoral and objectionable content.”

Like its neighbor India, the government in Pakistan has also sought to assume more control over content on digital services operating in the country in recent years.

While global tech giants, most of which count India as a key overseas market, haven’t made much fuss about New Delhi’s new rules for social media, they banded together in 2020 in Pakistan and threatened to leave the country over rules proposed by Islamabad.