Pakistan unblocks Wikipedia after a three-day ban

The 'unintended consequences of this blanket ban' outweighed the pros, according to the country's prime minister.

NurPhoto via Getty Images

People in Pakistan can once again use Wikipedia, three days after the country blocked the website over content that regulators deemed "sacrilegious." As TechCrunch notes, prime minister Shehbaz Sharif ordered officials to unblock Wikipedia after determining that the ban was “not a suitable measure to restrict access to some objectionable contents/sacrilegious matter on it.” Sharif's office said in a statement that the "unintended consequences of this blanket ban" outweighed the "benefits."

The Pakistan Telecommunication Authority (PTA) "degraded" access to Wikipedia last Wednesday, warning the site's operators that they had 48 hours to remove certain content or face repercussions. Wikipedia apparently demurred and the PTA blocked the site in Pakistan on Friday.

Meanwhile, Sharif is establishing a cabinet committee to "explore and recommend alternative technical measures for removal or blocking access to objectionable content posted on Wikipedia and other online information sites, in view of our social, cultural and religious sensitivities, on the touchstone of proportionality." The committee is also being tasked with offering other suggestions aimed at "controlling unlawful content in a balanced manner."

Sharif asked the committee to provide the cabinet with recommendations within one week. That doesn't give the committee members much time to fully assess and analyze the many, many considerations that go into content moderation.