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After Twitter halts in Pakistan for hours on Sunday, digital rights group demands answer from govt

Just Earth News | @justearthnews | 19 May 2020 Print

After Twitter halts in Pakistan for hours on Sunday, digital rights group demands answer from govt

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Islamabad: Amid doubts of media censorship, the Media Matters for Democracy, a digital rights group, has asked the Pakistan government to issue a statement to clarify if micro-blogging site Twitter was blocked in the country recently.

The group tweeted: "We call upon the government to issue an official statement on the matter, clarifying whether Twitter was blocked, & if it was, on what grounds."

The netizens complained that Twitter was down in the country on Sunday.

Usama Khilji, director of Bolo Bhi, also tweeted on the matter and said: "This is concerning. @PTAofficialpkshould confirm blocking of Twitter in Pakistan on Sunday May 17, 2020; & cabinet should take notice of this outage of Twitter services for Pakistani citizens @ShireenMazari1 @shiblifaraz @MoitOfficial such online censorship is unacceptable."

Twitter on Sunday said the disruption to services in the region was not caused from their end.

In a report released on Monday, internet blockage observatory NetBlocks in partnership with the Digital Rights Foundation (DRF) confirmed that Twitter, Periscope and Zoom were restricted on multiple internet providers in Pakistan on Sunday evening, commencing approximately from 10.30 pm and lasting over an hour, reports Dawn News.

NetBlocks tweeted: "Evidence of nation-scale Twitter, Periscope and Zoom disruption across #Pakistan on 17 May 2020. Analysis of network data with @DigitalRightsPK confirms no international outage at time of disruption and establishes a timeline of events."

Reacting to the incident, Alp Toker, Executive Director of the NetBlocks internet observatory, told Dawn: "Sunday’s disruption of social media and video meeting services in Pakistan is evidenced by multiple datasets and presents a setback for user rights. While citizens remain housebound they are reliant on digital platforms, making it essential that authorities and network operators act transparently and proportionately in keeping with international standards."

On the other hand, ISP providers Storm Fiber and Nayatel told Dawn that they had not received any order from the Pakistan Telecommunications Authority (PTA) or any other government entity to block Twitter on their networks.

Pakistan Telecommunications Authority (PTA) has not commented on the matter so far.