Internet censorship: Interim set-up says YouTube ban will stay -Pakistan Press Foundation (PPF)

Paksitan Press Foundtion

Internet censorship: Interim set-up says YouTube ban will stay

Pakistan Press Foundation

ISLAMABAD: Despite the caretaker administration’s willingness to allow YouTube access back in Pakistan, the government was firm in its stance on keeping the ban until the video-sharing website removed the controversial blasphemous video that provoked countrywide violent protests in September last year.

“Google Inc, the owner of YouTube, has been engaged in progressive talks recently and we hope a breakthrough soon,” said a senior official from the legal department of Information technology ministry. He said the website was being urged to at least block the video in Pakistan if they could not altogether remove it from the website.

YouTube was banned by the Pakistan government in September 2012 after it sparked anger and violent protests across the country and the Muslim world. Following the ban, an inter-ministerial committee comprising representatives from IT ministry, Pakistan Telecommunication Authority (PTA), Federal Investigation Agency (FIA), religious affairs ministry, intelligence agencies and other stakeholders was formed to look into the issue and suggest a solution.

Last November, the committee suggested in its final report to the prime minister that the ban on the website be kept until it (the website) agreed to remove the video voluntarily or until PTA found a way to block it, which the latter failed to do.

The IT ministry official said that the current administration was keen on getting the ban lifted, adding that caretaker Minister for Information Technology Dr Sania Nishtar was working tirelessly on the matter.

However, the controversial video that was still present on the website remained the bone of contention. “She is looking into all possible ways to resolve the issue but so far there had been no major breakthrough,” the official added. Two days ago, Information Minister Arif Nizami told journalists that a summary was sent to the government suggesting removal of YouTube’s ban.

“The prime minister would not do it on his own without taking all stakeholders into confidence and without considering the committee’s decision,” said the official. He said the IT ministry was the body responsible for execution of any and all orders from the government with respect to the YouTube ban. The ministry would instruct the PTA to lift the ban and allow all service providers to put the website back once the government reached a decision.

The legal way of getting Google Inc to agree to remove the blasphemous video was to file a formal request for which there needed to be Mutual Legal Assistance Treaty (MLAT) between United States and Pakistan. However, the treaty was not initiated from Pakistani foreign office administration as it was a lengthy process, the IT ministry official added.

Source: The Express Tribune


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