Media Law Roundup: September 27th

Pakistani Government Shuts Down Gay Website

On Wednesday September 25th the Pakistan Telecommunications Authority (PTA) shut down the Queer Pakistani website Pakistani authorities report that the content was against Islam and Pakistani societal values. In Pakistan homosexuality still remains technically illegal. The Queer Pakistan website acted as more than just a dating site for Pakistan’s queer community. The site, which just started in July, acted as a platform that openly addressed homosexual issues in Pakistan, tracked homophobia in the media and other forums, displayed gay short films with subtitles, and enabled the queer community to meet and get advice. Queer Pakistan began mirroring its site after the PTA shutdown, and is now accessible in Pakistan at Publicity regarding the site’s blockage increased traffic to Queer Pakistan, leading the group to jokingly thank the PTA on Twitter tweeting, “Thank you #PTA for raising out traffic to 2000% in past 2 days and 90% of which is from Pakistan.”

Teenage Boy First Arrest under China’s “Online Rumor” Law

A 16 year old boy, only identified as Yang, is the first to fall victim to China’s recent “online rumor” law. The law, which went into effect September 10th 2013, states that “online rumors” that get shared 500 times or seen 5,000 times will result in penalties. The teenager from Zhangjiachuan, Gansu province was arrested after posting about his unhappiness regarding a police investigation that ended in a local business man’s suicide. The teen’s post quickly went viral on the popular social media site Weibo. Authorities claim that the arrest was necessary as the teen was “picking quarrels and provoking trouble” online. This arrest follows recent crackdowns on microbloggers and influential online opinion makers in China.

New Uruguay Media Laws

Uruguay has proposed a new set of media laws to update its communications policy for the 21st century. The proposed law aims to limit media concentration and secure spaces for independent content, facilitating a diverse media landscape that provides greater information and a multitude of opinions. Prominent features of the law include national quotas for production (60% of audiovisual content must be nationally produced or coproduced) and anti-concentration measures (30% of content must be aired by independent producers, and 40% of that content cannot come from the same source). Unlike similar media reforms in Ecuador and Argentina, Uruguay’s measures have been received with praise from groups such as Reporters Without Borders and Freedom of Expression Exchange. Despite general approval for the law, some worry that its provisions are too ambiguous and overreaching. Areas of concern include the government appointed “Council” assigned to be the main interpreter of the law, and the sometimes “confusing and contradictory” nature of the policy. The Senate is expected to vote on the law by the end of the year.


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