CII may be asked to check material on YouTube | Pakistan Press Foundation (PPF)

Pakistan Press Foundation

CII may be asked to check material on YouTube

Pakistan Press Foundation

ISLAMABAD: Before lifting the ban on YouTube in Pakistan, the government is considering placing an institutional mechanism in place to consult the Council of Islamic Ideology (CII) to determine if any contents on the Internet are blasphemous or pornographic.

After placing such mechanism, the PTA will then be asked to block such material to enable the decision to open up the YouTube, official sources confirmed to The News here on Monday.

“The government wants progress on two issues before moving towards restoring YouTube and first of all members in Pakistan Telecommunication Authority (PTA) will be hired within next two to three weeks and then subsequently the chairman will be selected among them and secondly the institutional mechanism will be devised to declare any content unwarranted,” official sources confirmed to The News here on Monday.

The government’s commission, the sources said, had conducted interviews of short-listed candidates for appointment as PTA members in accordance with the directives of the Supreme Court. It was expected that the PTA members would be appointed in next two to three weeks.

First of all, there was need to understand that no technical solution was available to stop anyone from uploading blasphemous material on YouTube and it might happen once YouTube is restored. The uploading of such films cannot be barred but a response mechanism placed by the PTA needs to be strengthened by enhancing skills and human resources.

In Saudi Arabia, the government has established a separate cell having strength of more than 1,000 workforce to remove links (URLs) with any unwanted material on it. While in many other Muslim countries the YouTube was opened after extending warning to those who approached certain unwarranted contents on it, in Pakistan the government wants to ensure blocking of any such material by placing an institutional mechanism.

This mechanism means there should be an authorised body to define any material as blasphemous or objectionable and then direct the PTA to block it immediately.The Prime Minister’s Office has sought a position paper on issues pertaining to the opening up of YouTube from the Ministry of Information Technology and other stakeholders before Nawaz Sharif’s departure to the US.

Without creating awareness among politicians, policy makers and masses, the opening up of YouTube is considered as a controversial subject and no one seems ready to take responsibility and shifting the buck on the shoulders of others is continuously underway.

Now the MoIT is floating fresh ideas to resolve this lingering stalemate by referring this issue to the CII for declaring unwarranted contents on the Internet which might be uploaded again soon after the opening up of YouTube in the country.

Under the existing mechanism, the government has constituted an Inter Ministerial Committee (IMC) under chairmanship of Secretary Ministry of Information Technology (MoIT) and comprising other stakeholders including the representatives of PTA, Ministry of Religious Affairs and intelligence agencies for taking decisions on declaring contents as blasphemous or pornographic.

Under the new proposed mechanism, one option is empowering the CII to declare any content unwarranted and then forward it to the PTA for blocking it on the Internet.

The government had formed a committee to identify unwarranted URLs and found over 4,000 such sites which were already blocked on a trial basis.Secretary MoIT Akhlaq Ahmed Tarar on Monday said the IMC meeting had not so far been held to consider the opening up of YouTube.“The government is awaiting appointments in the PTA which will pave the way for moving towards the desired direction,” he concluded.

The News