DR. Awab Alvi, who was in Manila recently for the Freedom of Expression in Asian Cyberspace conference to represent the Don’t Block the Blog Campaign protesting the censorship of Blogspot in Pakistan, wrote to announce that the Pakistan Telecom Authority (PTA) has just removed the blanket ban on Blogspot yesterday, hence allowing majority of bloggers in Pakistan free access to their blog accounts.

Despite the positive development, Alvi said the Don’t Block the Blog will continue to fight for a total freedom of the Internet as the Government of Pakistan has not lifted the ban on eight of 12 websites in the initial blocked list and therefore remain inaccessible, including 16 other sites blocked by two earlier PTA circulars.

(Download Alvi’s conference presentation here for an overview on the wholesale blacklist of Pakistani blogs as a result of the controversy surrounding cartoons depicting the Prophet Muhammed in a bad light.)

Below is the Don’t Block the Blog statement:

Yesterday, on 3rd May 2006, after almost two months since the initial ban was imposed, the Alvi-e Team, comprised of Dr. Awab Alvi and Omer Alvie, and supported by tens of bloggers worldwide joining under the “Don’t Block the Blog” banner are pleased to report that they again have access to Blogspot blogs in Pakistan. The PTA (Pakistan Telecommunication Authority) had, on the 3rd of March 2006, blocked access to a number of websites for the Internet users in Pakistan. This ban was in response to a list submitted by a Supreme Court decision dated 2nd March 2006 instructing the PTA to ban 12 offending websites which highlighted the blasphemous cartoons on the Prophet Muhammad (PBUH). In adherence to the Supreme Court ruling, all 12 sites were blocked including one that was hosted on the Blogspot domain. But rather than block the offending Blogspot website, the PTA blocked the entire domain which happens to be one of the most popular blog hosting domains hosting approximately upwards of ten million blogs globally.

We believe that this development can be credited to the collective efforts of dozens of free speech activists of the Don’t Block the Blog Campaign and the Action Group Against Blogspot Ban in Pakistan. The peaceful activities were primarily responsible for creating a massive awareness campaign nationally (within Pakistan), as well as internationally.

The Don’t Block the Blog (DBTB) campaign was launched by Dr. Awab Alvi and Omer Alvie on 3rd March, 2006 in order to highlight the unfair blanket ban of the Blogspot domain and additionally to show support for free Internet speech in general. Approximately at the same time the Action Group Against Blogspot Ban in Pakistan (AGABBP), a mailing list with hundreds of contributing members also was formed to protest this Blogspot ban and in support of free speech.

Of the sixteen websites listed on two circulars issued by the PTA (28th Feb and 25th April) only three are presently unblocked and the rest are still inaccessible to Internet surfers in Pakistan, we continue our efforts to push for a censorship-free Internet.

The Pakistan Internet blockade issue and the resulting efforts of DBTB campaign, along with those of AGABBIP group, were reported in a number of mainstream news media, including Washington Post, IFEX, Global Voices, Voice of America, The News, Reporters Sans Borders, Dawn Newspaper and Spider Magazine.

2 Responses to Pakistan: Blogspot blanket ban appears to be lifted

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INSIDE PCIJ: Stories behind our stories » AI takes on net repression

May 29th, 2006 at 3:28 pm

[…] This blog has reported, for instance, on the blocking of websites in Pakistan as a result of the controversy surrounding cartoons illustrating the Prophet Muhammed. […]

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