YouTube access today as remote as it was in 2013 | Pakistan Press Foundation (PPF)

Pakistan Press Foundation

YouTube access today as remote as it was in 2013

Pakistan Press Foundation

ISLAMABAD: It was blasphemous content that had pushed the authorities into banning video-sharing website YouTube in the country 16 months ago and in all that time the ground situation hasn’t changed a bit.

“The legal environment is not conducive for adopting a localised version of YouTube and unless and until a localised domain is obtained, it is not possible to stop blasphemous materials on the social website in Pakistan completely,” said representative of Google Inc, Mike Orgill while briefing the Senate sub-committee on information technology on Thursday.

When the Minister of State for IT Anusha Rehman inquired about the next step of Google after the government’s assurance of giving legal protection, the representative did not give any time frame but instead said that the company will see whether it was “financially and technically viable.”

Responding to queries of the committee, which met with Senator Osman Saifullah in the chair, Anusha said that a three-member committee headed by PTA chairman has been formed to analyse how the website was being operated by other Muslim countries.

The committee had asked whether it is possible to access YouTube in countries with large Muslim populations such as Saudi Arabia, United Arab Emirates, Malaysia and Turkey. In addition, the committee had also asked why the government had not used or replicated the system and safeguards employed by other Muslim states.

The committee, according to Rehman, discovered that 13 out of 14 countries it studied had localised YouTube. Furthermore, all these countries have installed filters for blocking blasphemous materials on the internet, she added.

Filters alone cannot block out blasphemous materials on the social website in the country, PTA chairman Dr Syed Ismail Shah told the committee.

During the meeting the role of the inter-ministerial committee — the body that ordered the blocking of the site — also came under discussion and speakers underlined the need for transparency in its affairs. The committee asked PTA to identify links of the objectionable video to Google on which the latter would issue warning tabs which would be globally visible.

Separately, the minister also informed the committee that the proposed Cyber Crime bill has been finalised and will be sent to the law ministry for vetting during the next week. It is likely to be tabled in parliament by the end of this month.

Express Tribune

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