The Pakistan Telecommunications Authority has blocked access to Wikipedia and its affiliate sites over refusal to remove what it calls "sacrilegious" content. Image by nohat silsor/Wikimedia Commons
Feb. 4 (UPI) -- The Pakistan Telecommunications Authority is blocking access in the country to the free online encyclopedia Wikipedia, authorities confirmed Saturday.
Pakistan says it blocked the site for failing to remove what it calls "sacrilegious content." Officials originally issued a warning Wednesday, giving Wikipedia 48 hours to remove the content in question.
"Given the intentional failure on part of the platform to comply with the directions of PTA, the services of Wikipedia have been degraded for 48 hours with the direction to block/remove the reported contents. In case of non-compliance by Wikipedia the platform will be blocked within Pakistan," the PTA said in a statement on Twitter.
"PTA is committed to ensuring a safe online experience for all Pakistani citizens according to local laws," the agency asserted, adding that it would reconsider the ban if the unspecified content was removed.
The world's largest encyclopedia responded by calling for the ban to be lifted.
"The Wikimedia Foundation calls on Pakistan to restore access to Wikipedia and Wikimedia projects in the country immediately," it said in a statement.
The group confirmed its internal traffic reports indicated that Wikipedia and Wikimedia projects are no longer accessible to users in Pakistan.
Wikipedia's English-language sites receive more than 50 million views per month, the foundation said.
"If it (ban) continues, it will also deprive everyone access to Pakistan's knowledge, history, and culture," the group claimed while emphasizing that the parent organization does not "make decisions around what content is included on Wikipedia or how that content is maintained."