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Pakistan removes three year ban on YouTube


Pakistan’s telecom authority has removed a three year-old ban on video streaming site YouTube, reports the Express Tribune. The report added that YouTube will launch a localized version of the site which will allow the Pakistan Telecommunications Authority (PTA) to remove content it finds offensive.

Pakistan had blocked YouTube since 2012 after the site had uploaded “Innocence of Muslims”, an anti-Islam movie which led to widespread protests across the country and other Islamic nations. Bangladesh had placed a blanket ban on YouTube as well , but was lifted in 2013.

YouTube and the Pakistani government had tried earlier to reach to an agreement earlier. In 2013, Pakistan’s then Prime Minister Raja Pervez Ashraf had said that the ban on YouTube would be lifted only after completing work on a filtering mechanism.

Earlier in 2010, Pakistan had also blocked 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.

Indonesia considering banning Netflix

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TechInAsia reported last week that Indonesia’s film censorship board LSF had recommended that Netflix be blocked in the country on the grounds that the company hadn’t obtained censorship approval for its contents from LSF. However, the country’s IT ministry said that it would not consider blocking Netflix, but would regulate the content on the streaming service.

India’s porn ban

In August 2015, the government of India had asked ISPs to block 857 websites, many of them pornographic in nature in an attempt to crackdown on child pornography. Following widespread criticism, the government withdrew its ban and said that it did not want to impose moral policing. Mukul Rohatgi, the Attorney General, said in court that a “long list” given by the petitioner, Kamlesh Vasvani, had been given, and “the department went and blocked without verifying.” Although, that has not stopped interventions in the Supreme Court seeking a blanket ban on porn.

Also read: YouTube takes down alleged parody videos of Indian children using swear words

MediaNama’s take

It remains to be seen what filtering mechanism the Pakistan government will be using to deem what is offensive to the public. However, YouTube itself has a history of not enforcing its guidelines properly. Many times, YouTube cannot differentiate between an offensive video and parody video. Designing a filtering mechanism will be pretty difficult based on the nature of the content. At the same time, if a copyright violation claim is filed by a music label, YouTube acts on it more quickly, and even has processes to work with copyright owners for addressing these complaints.

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MediaNama’s mission is to help build a digital ecosystem which is open, fair, global and competitive.



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