YouTube to remain blocked: PTA
Months after the initial ban on popular video sharing site, YouTube, the Pakistan Telecommunications Authority (PTA) on Wednesday announced that the government still has no intention of unblocking it.
The PTA apprised the National Assembly Standing Committee on Information Technology on Wednesday regarding the status of YouTube, which was banned after the launch of the video “Innocence of Muslims” and subsequent worldwide protests, and informed the panel that the government has no plan to unblock it.
According to official documents, the ministry of interior had sent two letters to the information ministry [on December 28 and 29, 2012] for unblocking of the YouTube provisionally, while also directing the ministry to remain vigilant by deputing sufficient and increased manpower to monitor for any blasphemous or offensive videos appearing on high impact websites like YouTube and Facebook.
The letters had mentioned Interior Minister Rehman Malik’s recommendation as based on “public demand.” However, both letters were withdrawn on December 29.
Humayun Saifullah of Pakistan Muslim League-Quaid (PML-Q) said that PTA should be given full authority to block all those websites that contain pornographic or anti-state material.
The committee suggested that the Ministry of Information Technology to hold consultations with the PTA and take concrete steps in this regard.
The PTA further informed the committee that 748 links of the film and 4,906 websites containing pornographic material have been blocked. In addition, PTA has blocked 584 ‘anti state’ websites.
YouTube was also recently blocked in Egypt.
Additionally, the committee raised the issue of payments to the consultants hired for 3G auction and said that nothing has been done by those consultants and the government owes them millions of rupees.
Grey phone traffic
The parliamentary panel on Wednesday also finally approved a bill, introduced in the National Assembly in June 2010 to curb grey phone traffic. The bill alleges that the country is losing billions of rupees every year due to grey international telephone traffic.
Grey phone traffic is something that falls outside the regular course of business between licensed telecommunication companies in each country. The far end of the call is made to appear as if it is local, rather than a more expensive international call.