The YouTube ban
Sir: YouTube has been banned in Pakistan for nearly 163 days now. However, the ban has brought little good. The anti-Islam video, which was the root cause of the ban, is still viewable to the entire world on YouTube. Moreover, more than 1 million links on the internet lead to the video as copies of the video have been uploaded on countless websites. Since the IT policy of Pakistan has expired, YouTube is not willing to host a localised version of the website, which would have allowed Pakistan to censor individual links. The only possible way to block out all blasphemous content on the internet, according to the IT ministry, is via an automated internet filtering system. The Pakistan Telecommunications Authority (PTA) has been directed to develop a system along these lines. However, this requires a huge budget that has not been allocated yet. The advent of any such system where the internet will be controlled by the government is highly alarming. The government needs to realise that the public is not willing to surrender to a system where all access to information is controlled by a central authority. The alarming increase in the use of proxies by the masses is evidence of this notion. Moving to such an era would essentially mean that we are no longer living in a democracy.
While the ban does not effectively deal with the blasphemous content, it has restricted millions of Pakistanis from accessing knowledge and research-based material on YouTube. YouTube has been in the past the premier website for e-learning regarding any subject. Similarly, stakeholders who have used YouTube as a method of communication also have to face inconvenience. It is high time that the government adopts effective measures to facilitate the public while simultaneously dealing with the blasphemous content.
KHAWAJA ZARGHAM BIN AAMER