ISLAMABAD: Customers were rejected access to numerous famous web sites, adding in an internet shopping platform, for close to a week after the Pakistan Telecommunication Authority ( PTA ) instructed internet service providers ( ISP ) to stop them. On May 26, the PTA directed ISPs to block authority to access, among further websites, Alibaba .com, Bloomberg .com, BuzzFeed .com and gsmarena .com, saying that they were hosting “unethical” content. Buzzfeed .com is a famous media and enjoyment website, Bloomberg .com targets company and markets information, Alibaba .com is an online shopping platform and gsmarena .com carries details on mobile phones.
When contacted, a customer service representative at Nayatel, a private ISP, said to Dawn: “These websites had been stopped following directions from the PTA .” Members on Telenor and Zong had trouble accessing Buzzfeed, Bloomberg, and Alibaba utilizing their mobile phones, while a few Ufone and Jazz subscribers were also unable to connect to them. Many representatives within the mobile coverage sector were unaware and seemed shocked when Dawn reached out to ask why their subscribers had not been able to access some of these websites for the previous few days.
An official at Ufone suggested clearing up one’s internet history or restarting systems and trying again, while an official at Telenor declared the websites seemed to be restricted at the source. “At 1st, I thought there was something incorrect with my mobile phone. But then I could not access Buzzfeed at home for 4 days either,” declared Nida Abbasi, who trips the enjoyment website regularly. Shehryar Saeed, who frequently utilizes Alibaba – especially to shop for toys for his infants, also complained that he had not been able to link up the internet shopping platform.
Pakistan Telecommunication Company ( PTCL ) technical support verified that guidelines were passed down by the PTA to block access to these websites. “The directions really come from the Ministry of Interior, which also identifies objectionable or controversial content posted on a certain website and tells the PTA to block it,” a member of PTCL’s technical support team declared. The PTA on Saturday night denied blocking access to these websites, saying that the authority has not granted any guidelines to deny users access to Bloomberg .com, Alibaba .com or BuzzFeed .com.
However, a list of numerous 1000s of websites – available with Dawn – that ISPs have been directed to block access to included Alibaba .com, Bloomberg .com, BuzzFeed .com and gsmarena .com. New directives were granted to the ISPs late Saturday night after Dawn reached out to the PTA asked for more details on why the websites were not accessible. In their directive, seen by Dawn, the PTA asked ISPs to unblock the aforementioned websites, which the authority said had been erroneously included on the list of websites hosting objectionable content that have been clogged by the authority.