After protests over images of Islam’s Prophet Mohammad were posted on a Facebook page, the Pakistani government had banned access to the social networking site. The ban has since been lifted on the material, deemed offensive to Muslims, having been removed. The incident sparks questions, though, over just how the Westernised internet intends to manage its interaction with non-Western users and pages.
Yesterday, we reported that the UAE has a new IDN in .emarat, which is a wonderful thing for non-Latin script users of the internet. However, relations between Westernised usage of the internet and that of emerging non-Western usage are still fraught over issues such as content management, security and censorship.
We previously reported on how IDNs could contribute to weaknesses in internet security, and how IDNs could also serve censorship, in the form of Russian concerns over Cyrillic scripted websites and information filtering.
The Facebook vs Pakistan is a less technical, but interesting example, of how internet access and content often promotes the shortcomings of the internet in dealing with cultural differences; and the difficulties for governments in balancing freedom of internet use and their own agendas. For more on the decision to ban Facebook in Pakistan, see Miranda Husain’s Newsweek article.