KARACHI: The civil society has slammed the Ministry of Information Technology’s (MoIT) statement about resolving the issue of the YouTube ban by installing filters.
In a press release issued on Wednesday, Bolo Bhi said that reports indicated that this filter has been provided by PTCL to MoIT “for free, for one year.” The filters, according to the IT ministry’s statement (being run on tickers on news channels), have already been “tested successfully”, the civil society organisation said.
“If this is indeed the case, the Ministry has dealt a huge blow to rational discourse on the issue – which, it must be pointed out, is still ongoing and being discussed in court.
Pursuing filters display a clear disregard of the discussion held to date on the matter in court,” the statement read.
“While members of MoIT and PTA have attended the hearings, nobody from the IMCEW (Inter-Ministerial Committee for the Evaluation of Websites) or decision-making ranks of MoIT have presented themselves in court. The Minister and Secretary IT have both been called to attend hearings, twice, yet have excused themselves,” the NGO alleged in its press release.
“The solution does not lie in filters. Introducing filters to reopen one platform will do more harm than good. The dangers of content filtering – especially of HTTPS traffic – have been highlighted repeatedly,” the statement added.
Bolo Bhi has urged the ministry to bring clarity on the media reports, respect the constitutional rights of citizens of Pakistan, appear in court as has been required of the Minister and Secretary IT, engage with stakeholders and the court on this issue and disable the filters immediately.
The NGO further urged PTCL to not provide filters to the Ministry of IT given the human rights implications, disable filters and follow the United Nations Principles of Business & Human Rights.