No Internet outage till elections: SHC

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KARACHI: The Sindh High Court (SHC) has directed the authorities concerned to ensure uninterrupted access to the internet to all citizens till

Users experienced internet outages multiple times lately

Nazir Siyal

KARACHI: The Sindh High Court (SHC) has directed the authorities concerned to ensure uninterrupted access to the internet to all citizens till February 8 general elections.

In its order on Wednesday, the high court restrained the authorities from suspending internet services and directed the respondents to submit their response on January 29.

Advocate and human rights activist Jibran Nasir’s had filed the petition in the SHC against frequent suspension of internet services in the country.

As the political canvassing picks up pace ahead of the next month’s elections, users have experienced internet outages multiple times in recent days.

The outage of social media platforms including Facebook, X, Instagram and YouTube was the second in two weeks on January 20.

Following an hours-long disruption last week, the Pakistan Telecommunication Authority (PTA) blamed a “technical fault” in its optic fibre network for the nationwide internet outage.

On its official account on X, the PTA said: “The recent disruption in internet services was caused by a technical fault, which has been promptly rectified. Internet services have been fully restored nationwide.”

As per downdetector.pk, Google services as well as internet service provider PTCL also faced disruption.

According to a report, the relationship between the state and media freedoms deteriorated during the past two years due to growing instances of censorship, violence against journalists, and government disdain for critical media.

The report titled “Under Siege: Legislative, Judicial and Executive Actions Stifling Freedom of Expression and Right to Information” was published by the Institute of Research, Advocacy and Development (IRADA) as part of its annual state of digital journalism series.

During the period under review, the PTA blocked as many as 1.1 million URLs including 187 mobile applications. Out of these blocked or removed URLs and content, around 200,000 were alleged to be related to the contempt of court, against the defence of Pakistan or glory of Islam, defamatory and sectarian/hate speech content, the report stated.