We’re hearing again today that Pakistan officials may decide to ban Facebook. We heard the same thing earlier this month pertaining to Twitter, WhatsApp and possibly other social networks, but today it’s Facebook specifically that’s being targeted by the Islamabad High Court.
Facebook told by Pakistan to remove “blasphemous content”
The Islamabad High Court heard a case related to content shared on Facebook on Wednesday. The Federal Investigation Agency told the judges that it has completed its investigation and arrested a man who allegedly shared “blasphemous” content on the social network. Authorities reportedly confiscated a laptop and mobile phone from the man.
The agency added that it added the names of many other people to the country’s Exit Control List. In all, officials reportedly accused more than 70 people of operating sensitive pages on social networks, but most of them live outside of Pakistan. They also told the High Court that they’re keeping at least three others who do live in the country under constant surveillance.
According to media reports, Justice Shaukat Aziz Siddiqui questioned the Interior Secretary about why they weren’t getting help from the Federal Investigation Agency to remove blasphemous material from Facebook. He was told that they are working with the FIA, but the social network takes two or three weeks to share requested information.
Facebook ordered to comply or by be banned
In response, the justice said that the problem is sensitive and ordered the social network to be blocked in Pakistan until the problem is resolved.
“We don’t need social media if it cannot stop blasphemy,” he said, according to media reports.
Pakistani media are reporting that Facebook agreed to send representatives who will be tasked with finding a solution to the country’s problems with the content shared on its platform.
A Facebook spokesperson sent the following statement to ValueWalk:
“We review all government requests carefully, with the goal of protecting the privacy and rights of our users. We disclose information about accounts solely in accordance with our terms of service and applicable law. A Mutual Legal Assistance Treaty or other formal request may be required for international requests, and we include these in our Government Requests Report.”
The Islamabad High Court plans to make a ruling on whether social media should be banned on March 27 during the next hearing in the case.