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ISP disrupts internet for news portal over news reporting

An online news portal https://ourbiratnagar.net/, being operated from Biratnagar, was blocked for 40 hours since August 27. Biratnagar lies in Province 1 of Nepal.

The news portal was blocked by the internet service provider Classic Tech Company.

According to the information shared by executive director of the news portal, Saroj Karki, news about citizen's padlocking at the ISP's office was published on the portal on Friday morning. Two hours after the news publication, the website was blocked on the ISP users' devices.

When Karki informed the company about the issue, representative from the company replied that it would take some time to solve the issue as the office was already closed and technicians were on holiday. 

Worryingly, they also asked Karki to delete the news from portal, he said.

The news portal restarted on Sunday (August 29) after noon. 

On FF's enquiry with the ISP, Sushil Singh Thapa, public relation officer, said that the issue was due to server error which is a common issue. We tried to solve it as soon as possible. The news published on the online is completely fake and misleading, he argued.

On this, Karki from the news portal informed FF that the news was published on the basis of citizen's complaint. "Our website also promotes citizen journalism hence, we publish news and articles sent by the citizen as well after series of verification", he added.

"Importantly, I have all the recordings and footages as my news sources and I can resort to the legal action if needed", said Karki.

Freedom Forum is concerned over the blockage of news portal. Interruption of the broadcast of news portal for forty hours is a serious issue as it has deprived citizens from their access to free information. Amid the COVID-19 pandemic, online media has been the most viable medium for communication and information. Hence, the ISPs should be aware of the importance of free press in society.

The highhandedness of ISP to disrupt news portal is objectional. It violates press freedom. I could take another way to complain over the news content in case of dissatisfaction, but blocking internet is grave.

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Thapathali, Kathmandu