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Facebook approached for access to record of blocked pages, FIA tells IHC

Updated Mar 16, 2017 11:01pm


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The government has approached Facebook for access to the records of three controversial pages accused of spreading blasphemous content, the director general of the Federal Investigation Agency (FIA), Mazhar Kakakhail, told the Islamabad High Court (IHC) on Monday.

Kakakhail told the court that the FIA had written to Facebook seeking the details and records of the three pages, which were blocked by the Pakistan Telecommunication Authority (PTA) for carrying blasphemous content.

The IHC is hearing a case pertaining to the dissemination of blasphemous content through social media.

The case, filed by Salman Shahid, argues that the presence of blasphemous content on social media websites is "hurting the religious sentiments of Muslims".

The petition also alleges that pages and videos defaming the Prophet Muhammad (Peace be Upon Him) and revered personalities had not been blocked by the respondents nor had any steps been taken to remove the content.

Secretary Interior Mohammad Arif Khan, PTA Chairman Syed Ismail Shah, IG Islamabad Tariq Masood Yasin, and senior officials from the information technology (IT) ministry apprised the court on Monday about the progress they have made so far in connection with the case.

Kakakhail said that three of the 'blasphemous' pages had already been blocked, whereas five to six other pages carrying blasphemous content had been marked.

He further said that an application will be launched under international law if the Facebook administration failed to comply with the Pakistani government's request.

"We are at an earlier stage of inquiry in this regard," he added.

Secretary Interior Arif Khan assured the court that those responsible for the blasphemous pages would be identified within a week. He said that investigations are underway as the interior minister had ordered a probe.

PTA has blocked more than 70 such websites, he said, adding that the authority was "trying their level best" to follow legal procedure while investigating the matter.

In his remarks, Justice Shaukat Aziz Siddiqui directed the officials to expedite the investigation and also warned them to "handle the case carefully".

"To put a blame on an innocent [person] is in itself a grave sin," he cautioned.

"Anyone who committed blasphemy will not be able to dodge the law. We will pass an order such that no one will dare to do so in the future," he said.

"Some philosophers in media believe that their consent should be sought before any step is taken," he said, while commenting on the criticism this case has received.


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Comments (16) Closed

shafi Mar 13, 2017 03:27pm

Facebook under the law is bound not to disclose the profiles of the account holders, therefore, in my view, if Pakistani court is asking to reach private data, its against international law and justice.

Irfan M Mar 13, 2017 03:33pm

Thank you Amir Liaquat and Orya Maqbool Jaan. Without you two we would not have understood the gravity of the situation. You two deserve Nishan -Haider.

Fudayl Z. Ahmad Mar 13, 2017 03:41pm

@Irfan M I can't believe you said that. Is that a satire, or you really mean it?

Hassan (Karachi) Mar 13, 2017 03:52pm

@Irfan M, Nishan-i-Haider is for people who have died in service to the country. The living can only receive the highest commendation of Nishan-i-Imtiaz.

And neither name should be mentioned in the same sentence as Amir Liaqat.

realistic Mar 13, 2017 04:03pm

@shafi Facebook is bound to provide data if required by authorized investigation agency and validated by a court of law.

MAST Mar 13, 2017 04:34pm

Great Initiative taken!

Awan Mar 13, 2017 04:47pm

Kindly shutdown the Internet. We deserve this. We are too sensitive to handle the global flow of Information and Internet in general. We are happy to shove our heads in the sand and then try to pretend that nothing is happening around us.

naqeeb Mar 13, 2017 05:06pm

This is not about 'blasphemous content' but something else, I guess

Irfan M Mar 13, 2017 05:12pm

By the way facebook has aleady refused to reveal the identity of the account holders. This was in the news few days ago.

Irfan M Mar 13, 2017 05:19pm

@Awan I fully agree with you. Internet should be fully blocked. TV sensor should be strict. We should be only watching Amir Liaquat and Orya Maqbool jaan's programs only.

Irfan M Mar 13, 2017 05:24pm

@naqeeb . What are you guessing ? You think it is to divert attention from Panama case ? Man , have you been watching Dr. Shahid Masood's show ?

M.Sethi Mar 13, 2017 06:01pm

Hoping this is only about 'blasphemous content' but not something else. Such as a pretext to block Facebook site altogether in Pakistan, as they did with YouTube a year back ! Mar 13, 2017 06:24pm

All the info should be taken and then it should be blocked untill contents are cleared down

Qasim Mar 13, 2017 06:48pm

Great initiative by the court. If Facebook administration fail to block these pages than we should say goodbye to FB forever..

salma Mar 13, 2017 08:05pm

Shut down facebook ... until they comply. Many do not use facebook and we are better off.

Imtiaz Mahmood Mar 13, 2017 11:46pm

Putting a finger in the hole to prevent dam from bursting.

VPN is the answer. Science always has ways. What can these jokers do.

This is how we fight terrorism and that's the reason we aren't successful.