5-Member Wikipedia Panel to Meet Today

The meeting of the committee formed by Prime Minister Shahbaz Sharif on the issue of Wikipedia blocking has been called today.

According to the sources, a meeting of the committee has been called in the Ministry of IT and Telecom. Federal Minister IT Syed Aminul Haq will preside over the committee meeting. Federal Minister for Law and Justice Azam Nazir Tarar, Federal Minister for Information and Broadcasting Maryam Aurangzeb, Federal Minister for Commerce Naveed Qamar, and Federal Minister for Communications Asad Mahmood have been invited to attend the meeting.

According to the sources, Pakistan Telecommunication Authority (PTA) and IT Ministry officials have also been summoned to the committee meeting. PTA officials will brief the committee on the reasons behind Wikipedia’s ban and other technical issues related to the removal of objectionable content.

The committee will review the suitability of PTA action of blocking Wikipedia to restrict access to certain sacrilegious and objectionable content. The committee will explore and recommend alternate technical measures for removal or blocking access to objectionable content posted on Wikipedia and other online information sites in view of Pakistan’s social and religious sensitivities. The committee will give any other information with the objective of controlling unlawful online content in a balanced manner.

PTA on February 2 degraded Wikipedia for failing to block sacrilegious content. Later on, PTA February 3 blocked Wikipedia on the same allegations. According to the PTA, Wikipedia was given an opportunity to explain but neither its representative appeared before the PTA nor the offending content was removed.

Pertinently, Prime Minister Shahbaz Sharif on Monday, February 6th, ordered the PTA to unlock Wikipedia and constituted a five-member cabinet committee to review the matter. According to the notification issued by the Prime Minister’s Office, the Ministry of IT and Telecom has been declared as the secretariat of the committee.

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