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Pakistan To Unblock YouTube After Building Filtering Mechanism

Raja Pervez Ashraf, Prime Minister of Pakistan, has announced that it will lift the ban on YouTube only after completing work on a filtering mechanism, reports IANS (via Deccan Herald). However, it did not give the timeline by which the mechanism will be ready to implement.

YouTube, the popular video hosting service, was blocked by the Pakistan government on September 17 after mass riots erupted in the country following the uploading of an anti-Islam film “Innocence of Muslims”. On December 29, 2012, the Pakistan Telecommunication Authority (PTA) had directed internet service providers in Pakistan to unblock YouTube. However, within three minutes of unblocking the site, the ban was reinstated as the clip was still not removed from YouTube.

In 2010, Pakistan had blocked the popular video sharing website YouTube because of its growing sacrilegious content. The site was also blocked in 2008 for carrying material deemed offensive to Muslims. In 2008, Pakistan Telecom had accidentally blocked YouTube by posting a redirect for YouTube’s IP address that Hong Kong Internet Service provider PCCW distributed to other ISPs around the world.

Internet Censorship in India: Internet censorship is nothing new to India either. In last couple of years, ISPs in India too have been ordered by the GoI to block social networking sites that disturbed peace and harmony among the communities. Here’s a quick recap:

– On August 23, 2012, Indian Government set a 12 hour deadline to the micro blogging giant Twitter to remove 28 pages containing inflammatory pages related to the Assam violence, failing which it will face a temporary ban in the country. Read more

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– On August 22, 2012, Several ISPs blocked access to Twitter accounts of some journalists including @barbarindian @kanchangupta @aparanjape @dosabandit @shivaroor. However, the ban seems to be partially revoked after a few hours. [hat tip – @nikhilnarayanan |screenshot 1screenshot 2]

– On August 22, 2012, Indian Government directed ISPs to block parody accounts of the Prime Minister on Twitter including @PM0India (O replaced with a zero), @Indian_pm and @PMOIndiaa. Apart from that, Bharti Airtel had blocked Google owned YouTube’s short URL Youtu.be, however, that block was lifted with-in three hours. Read more.

– On August 21, 2012, Indian Government asked ISP’s to block 245 webpages with inflammatory and hateful content, following the exodus of a large number of people belonging to the North Eastern ethnic community from cities like Bangalore and Pune, among others. Read more.

– On May 17, 2012, Airtel, Reliance and other ISPs blocked sites such as video sharing sites Vimeo and DailyMotion, torrents sites like thepiratebay, text and code sharing platform Pastebin, and bookmarks sharing site Xmarks. However, the block was imposed following a John Doe order taken by Copyright Labs, Chennai, from the Madras High Court, for preventing piracy of Tamil Films Dammu and 3. Read more.

– In March 2012, the Indian music industry, an industry consortium of 142 music ompanies, hadobtained orders from the Calcutta High Court directing all Internet Service Providers (387 ISPs) to block 104 music sites (listed here).

– In December 2011, Google for the first time revealed its  Transparency Report for January to June 2011. The Internet search giant received requests from the Indian government – which seems to include State and Central governments, police and courts – to remove 358 items out of which 255 items were classified as government criticism.  Read more.

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–  In July 2011, several ISPs including Airtel had blocked access to file sharing sites Mediafire.com, Megaupload.com, Rapidshare.com, Sendspace.com, Megavideo.com, VideoBB.com, Novamov.com, Movshare.com, Putlocker.com, Hotfile.com, Fileserve.com, Filesonic.com, Filesonic.in, Depositfiles.com, Wupload.com, Uploaded.to, and Uploadstation.com. Initially, the reason for the block was suggested as an order from the Department of Telecommunication (DoT), however it was later revealed that the block was instituted because of a John Doe order from the Delhi High Court, allowing Reliance Big Pictures to prevent piracy of its movie Singham.

– On March 4, 2011, Internet service providers like Airtel, Reliance (Netconnect), BSNL, MTNL, Fivenet Broadband (Mumbai) had blocked sites such asTypepad.com, Mobango.com, Clickatell.com, and Blogspot.com by orders from DoT. The reason for the ban could not be made known then.

– In June 2009, the Department of Telecom had asked all Internet Service Providers to block toon-porn site Savitabhabhi.com which raised concerns over the IT Act that gives the government absolute powers to block any website without a hearing or assigning any reasons. Read more.

– In 2007, the government had an agreement with Orkut, then a popular social networking site, to take down several  allegedly “defamatory” pages including one about Bal Thackeray. Read more.

– In July 2006, the Indian Government blocked blogging sites such as blogspot.com, typepad.com, blogs.com, and geocities.com following the  Mumbai Train Blasts. Apparently, the government suspected that the terrorist group used blogs as a communication tool for coordinating the attacks. A right to information (RTI) application revealed that 26-odd websites had been blocked. Read more.

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