31 May 2010

Pakistan opens door to Facebook after a change

A court in Pakistan has ruled that Pakistan's telecommunications companies should once more allow access to Facebook traffic. Reports can be found in many locations including the Guardian,  CNN, and Al Jazeera.

The reporting is slightly confused about what exactly has happened. Everyone seems to agree that the court has dropped a requirement to block all Facebook traffic, and that the court has made clear that it will order whatever blocking it deems necessary to avoid the importation of illegal content.

20 May 2010

Pakistan tightens its Internet Border

Another day, another Internet Border story. This time Reuters reports that Pakistan (or to be precise the Pakistan Telecommunication Authority (PTA)) has ordered all Pakistan ISP's to disallow domestic access to Facebook. PTA have a history of ordering similar interdictions. For the purposes of my commentary the reason for the blockade is not critical. But for those of you who who want to know and don't want to click the link and read the Reuters report, basically the block has been ordered due to specific content on Facebook that is deemed illegal (to be specific, blasphemous) under the law of Pakistan.

As with the BBC Click news story concerning the UAE that I described here a few days ago, it's interesting to see that the journalist merely reports the circumstances of the site block. No hysterical reporting about how "but the Internet doesn't WORK that way" or anything else of the sort.

16 May 2010

BBC journalist describes online border

I was watching a television show this morning called BBC Click. It's a charming show that does a good job reviewing consumer information technology, mostly online services.  (In a spirit of full disclosure I said some negative things about one of their episodes last year.)

Today's Click programme was a special filmed in Dubai, part of the United Arab Emirates. The presenter, Spencer Kelly, showed us what happened when he attempted to connect to a few well-known web sites. Nothing outrageous. I think he mentioned Flickr and a few others.

The camera focused on Mr. Kelly's screen displaying a friendly-looking cartoon character and a warning in both Arabic and English. I did not get the full text, but the "gist" of it was something like: "The Internet is a wonderful tool for research and communication, but you have attempted to reach a web site which includes content that is forbidden by the law of the United Arab Emirates."