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Twitter restores access to ‘blasphemous’ content in Pak Move hailed by free speech activists

ISLAMABAD, June 18, (AFP): Twitter has restored access inside Pakistan to dozens of tweets and accounts, after blocking them last month following official complaints about “blasphemous” content, in a move hailed by free speech activists.

The microblogging site said it had changed its May 18 decision — to restrict access to the material from within Pakistan in order to comply with local laws — after the government failed to provide sufficient clarification. “On May 18, we made an initial decision to withhold content in Pakistan based on information provided to us by the Pakistan Telecommunication Authority,” the Internet company said in a statement posted on the Chilling Effects Clearinghouse website. “We have re-examined the requests and, in the absence of additional clarifying information from Pakistani authorities, have determined that restoration of the previously withheld content is warranted.

The content is now available again in Pakistan.” Chilling Effects is a collaboration between several US law schools which monitors attempts to suppress online content. Twitter works in partnership with the site to publicise requests to withhold its content. Most of the offending material concerned anti-Islam accounts and an annual online competition to draw caricatures of the Prophet Mohammed, but the accounts of three US porn stars were also listed. Sana Saleem, a co-founder of the Bolo Bhi non-profit group that advocates free speech, said: “We’re very glad Twitter has reversed its decision and not gone the Facebook route. “There was significant pressure and so we’re very happy. We’ve also been talking with them.”

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