The Sindh provincial government in Pakistan has unveiled its plan for a three-month ban on messaging apps Viber, WhatsApp, Tango, Skype and other Voice Over Internet Protocol-based calling and messaging applications in what officials call an “disrupt terrorist and criminal activities in the province, especially in the urban areas”.
Sindh Information Minister Sharjeel Memon shared this news in a press conference on Thursday, 4 October, 2013 in the southern port city of Karachi. The Sindh government is waiting for an approval from the federal government in Islamabad.
Organisations and activists protested against the proposed ban on messaging apps, calling it another curb to the fundamental rights and freedom of expression. Bolo Bhi, an advocacy, policy and research non-profit, issued an immediate press release:
This is a violation of fundamental rights of citizens and an acceptance from the government that they have failed to uphold law & order by resorting to ad hoc measuring and disrupting communications. Access should not be a victim to national security.
The government must focus on improving the law and order situation in the city instead of further restricting the rights of its citizens. There are other, more efficient methods to counter terrorism without compromising citizen’s basic rights to access and communication.
— fatima bhutto (@fbhutto) October 3, 2013
Usama Bin Nasar (@ubinnasar) was sarcastic:
So whatsapp and viber will be banned in #sindh because terrorists are using them so whats next banning beds because they sleep in them?
— usama bin nasar (@ubinnasar) October 4, 2013
Faizan Lakhani (@faizanlakhani) doubted that the Pakistan Telecommunication Authority (PTA) would approve:
PTA may not entertain Sindh Government's request to ban Skype, Viber, WhatsApp and Tango for various reasons.
— Faizan Lakhani (@faizanlakhani) October 3, 2013
Imran Ali (@imranaliwattoo) avised people how best to react to the proposed ban:
getting emotional gives us nothing but inability of controlling things #Sindh
— Imran Ali (@imranaliwattoo) October 4, 2013