IT ministry not consulted before recent internet blackout: Amin-ul-Haque

Federal Minister for Information Technology and Telecommunication Syed Amin-ul-Haque on Tuesday distanced his ministry from blockage saying that they were not “taken into confidence”.

“Mobile internet service was suspended without taking the Ministry of IT in confidence. After 2017 Pakistan Telecommunication Authority (PTA) is not under the Ministry of IT,” Haque told during an interview. 

He added that the PTA has been working as an independent organisation.

The minister said that the blackout of social media websites or blocking of the internet was not the solution to any problem. He added that the use of VPN to access blocked sites was not the solution to the problem and people needed to be broadminded.

“Internet can be blocked in some specific areas,” suggested the minister as an alternate solution. He added that the blocking of internet services resulted in losses of billion of rupees for the IT sector. 

The regulatory authority had suspended mobile broadband and restricted access to Twitter, Facebook and YouTube after violent protests sparked in the country when the Rangers personnel arrested Pakistan Tehreek-e-Insaf (PTI) Chairman Imran Khan from the Islamabad High Court (IHC) — acting on National Accountability Bureau’s (NAB) warrant on May 9.

At least 10 people were killed and dozens of others sustained injuries during the days-long protests.

However, a day earlier, the government finally restored the services of social media platforms — Twitter, YouTube and Facebook — across the country after almost a seven-day suspension.

The internet services were suspended on the recommendations of the interior ministry — the longest such continuous shutdown in a country that often suspends communications as a tool to quell unrest.

The internet suspension has resulted in an approximate revenue loss of Rs820 million for telecom operators, reports have suggested, a huge dent to the sector, as the economy remains in a fragile state.

Besides, the government had also blocked major social media platforms including Twitter and Facebook, while YouTube services were slower to control the spread of disinformation and panic among the masses due to the spread of "unwanted information".

ePaper - Nawaiwaqt