Federal Minister for IT Slaps Nationwide Twitter Ban on Pakistani Citizens

Islamabad - May 20, 2012: It is despicable to note that once again, Government of Pakistan has managed to block yet another social networking website Twitter. This is one important communication channel, which was being used by citizens in Pakistan and turning out to be a major platform for free expression and alternate political discourse in the country. In the recent past, blocking Youtube, Facebook and several other websites is already to the credit of this government.

Late last night, the newly appointed Minister for Information Technology, Raja Parvez Ashraf spoke to the media showing his concerns about the blasphemous content on different websites and threatened that Twitter will be banned soon if the company did not comply with the government’s orders. Within half an hour of this statement, past midnight, an official directive was issued to all Internet Service Providers in the country and Twitter started disappearing from Pakistani Cyberspace starting 10 a.m. today.

Twitter is one of the world’s most widely used mediums which serves the important purpose of microblogging, social and professional networking, and journalistic discourse on range of issues. Over the past 3 years, Twitter has seen enormous traffic being generated from Pakistan, where it has been productively used by a wide range of development stakeholders including journalists, researchers, human rights activists and above all politicians from different political parties for information exchange and other socio-development purposes. Internet Freedom advocates have used Twitter in the past to fight increasing Internet controls and online censorship in the country.

Since 2007, Bytes for All, Pakistan, (B4A-PK), has been monitoring the unfortunate situation of increasing internet controls in the country on a minute to minute basis and continued to campaign for Internet Freedom and repressive tactics by the government authorities against democracy in the country.  However, recent steps by the government to curb freedom of expression online are mind boggling and criminally undemocratic.

We strongly advise all aware and conscious citizens to denounce this Twitter ban and reject this oppressive slap on citizens basic human right to democracy, freedom of expression and access to information and continue to use twitter in protest.

To defy this censorship and oppression, Bytes for All, Pakistan, has setup a Rapid Response Network to ensure citizens unhindered access to Twitter and all other important online resources. Experts at Bytes for All will guide all individuals and organizations about the tools and tips to be able to access online resources, which they need for their socio-economic well being.

To use this expert help at the Rapid Response Network, citizens can email to bytesforall[at]riseup.net or Voice and Text using Skype by adding “BYTESFORALL”. Intermediate to advanced users can directly download the Vidalia TOR Bundle by visiting the official TOR Project website here.

Say yes to #NetFreedom!

Happy browsing!

Keep using Twitter!



Note to Editors:

About Bytes for All, Pakistan
Bytes for All (B4A), Pakistan is a human rights organization and a network of Information and Communication Technology (ICT) professionals and practitioners. It experiments and organizes debate on the relevance of ICTs for sustainable development and strengthening social justice movements in the country. Its mission is “ICTs for development, democracy and social justice”. www.bytesforall.pk


For more information:

Shahzad Ahmad
Cell. +92 333 5236060
info@bytesforall.pk and www.bytesforall.pk