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Pakistan's Wikipedia ban could hurt its tech sector - Rest of World - Rest of World

Last updated Monday, February 20, 2023 07:05 ET

Apps like TikTok, PUBG, Tinder, and Grindr have faced bans in Pakistan in recent years. Experts and activists worry this could drive away foreign investors and MNCs.
Pakistan’s cybercrime law is controversial and often requires tech companies to remove content, failing which they’re asked to pay hefty fines.
Pakistan’s startup funding fell to just $15.15 million in the fourth quarter of 2022 — its worst performance since the first quarter of 2020, which means the Wikipedia ban couldn’t be more ill-timed.
For three days starting February 3, the internet’s go-to, volunteer-driven encyclopedia, Wikipedia, was banned in Pakistan after it failed to comply with the national telecommunications regulator’s requests to remove what it had deemed “blasphemous content.”
The development was a grim reminder of an earlier ban on YouTube by the Pakistan Telecommunication Authority (PTA). It had lasted from 2012 to 2016, and left the country’s creator economy in shambles. Though the Wikipedia ban was reversed within 72 hours, Pakistani tech investors and activists told Rest of World that such a move sends a “dangerous” message to the world, and could drive away foreign investors or multinational companies.
“Given where Pakistan is, and given all the macroeconomic instability, we’re very far away from the heights that we saw in the startup ecosystem in 2021. I think people are looking for excuses not to invest [in Pakistan],” Kalsoom Lakhani, co-founder and general partner at...

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