YouTube ban ‘century’

Published: December 28, 2012

The YouTube ban is about controlling our behaviour and denying us access to the internet. PHOTO: FILE

YouTube watchers in Pakistan have now had to endure 100 days in solitude. The video-streaming website, for some unfathomable reason, still remains banned in the country. The original excuse for the ban — that the website was hosting an anti-Islam video — can no longer be the justification given that few even remember anything about the video now. This is purely a naked power play by the government and one that we should resist. This is about controlling our behaviour and denying us access to the internet. This is about the only logical explanation left since YouTube has millions of videos of which a bare handful would be considered objectionable by the government and the judiciary.

It seems that the ban will stay either until Google, YouTube’s parent company, agrees to take down videos we don’t approve of or the government can find a way to block videos that don’t fit its decency criteria. The former is a non-starter since Google has made clear that it wants no part of this censorship agenda while the latter has proven technologically impossible for the authorities. At this point, it is time for the government to realise that the rules of the game have changed. It is not possible to censor the internet the way that governments used to censor media in the print age. One video that is banned on a website can simply be viewed on other websites or through proxy servers. These bans are an inconvenience — as the website is also used for educational purposes — rather than a major hindrance.

The fight against the YouTube ban is important to cause the government to think twice before it embarks on another round of censorship. The proposal to build a firewall like China, where the internet would essentially be controlled by the government, is extremely worrying. We need to make it clear that we do not wish to regress to a dark age when a centralised authority controlled all access to information. Retreating to such an era would essentially mean that we were longer living in a democracy.

Published in The Express Tribune, December 28th, 2012.

on Twitter, become a fan on Facebook

Reader Comments (17)

  • Wali
    Dec 28, 2012 - 8:29AM

    Google would not remove video from his website because it is against their policies. We are the one who are suffering it. I am student and when i go online and find something related to my study, i find it most of it on YouTube but can not run it because of stupid ban. Govt must act now and remove this ban BECAUSE IT IS NOT WORKING.

    Recommend

  • Bewildered
    Dec 28, 2012 - 8:46AM

    Youtube has become the world’s biggest “Adult” content hosting website. It is not a matter of single video, but of millions. A total ban on it is the only solution for blocking objectionable content. As for as the use of free proxy servers and VPNs to bypass the blocking in order to view the content on youtube, these anti-blocking solutions hardly work in Pakistan for one reason or the other.

    Recommend

  • Muhammad
    Dec 28, 2012 - 9:38AM

    It’s so stupid! I mean if it’s really Islam the reason why we banned Youtube — where aunties watch the cooking shows they missed and bored guys watch funny videos to pass their time — then why not ban pornography? Hypocrites!

    Recommend

  • A Lady
    Dec 28, 2012 - 10:20AM

    @Bewildered:
    That is simply not true. Over the past several years Google has removed all “adult” content from Youtube. It used to be that all sorts of things used to come up even in a harmless search. But now Youtube is really quite safe now.

    It is the other video websites, which people are turning to now that Youtube is not there, that have completely unregulated “adult” content where you end up seeing “things” even if you don’t search for anything questionable.

    Recommend

  • Aisha azeem
    Dec 28, 2012 - 11:40AM

    Its high time PTA lifts ban on Youtube

    Recommend

  • Dec 28, 2012 - 12:35PM

    Government is doing what they should do & they should ban every single website that hosts anti Islamic content.

    Recommend

  • Dec 28, 2012 - 12:45PM

    Government is doing what they should do, they should ban every single website that hosts anti Islam content and we should stand with government. We shout because we are dependent on those tools that are being governed by west. I want to give example of Chines Government here, they boycott Google products and they built their own alternate tools, one example is their search engine http://qq.com and http://baidu.com. Instead of shouting we should concentrate on building our own tools.

    Recommend

  • jiyala
    Dec 28, 2012 - 12:53PM

    @bewildered, you’re full of it, aren’t you?

    There’s no adult content, as you call it, on Youtube. Look up the definition of adult content before you say anything silly.

    And yes, proxies/VPN work in Pakistan just like they would in any other country. Please take a class in Internet 101.

    Recommend

  • noor
    Dec 28, 2012 - 1:09PM

    plz PTA lifts ban on you tube.people face a lot of trouble,lot of lose about studies.plz plz i request u

    Recommend

  • A.M.Khan
    Dec 28, 2012 - 1:51PM

    It seems we are pushed towards stone age now.

    Recommend

  • Mubariz Khan
    Dec 28, 2012 - 1:56PM

    This govt. never fails to disappoint.

    Recommend

  • Frantic
    Dec 28, 2012 - 2:19PM

    “P A K I S T A N” never fails to disspoint !!

    Recommend

  • sattar rind
    Dec 28, 2012 - 4:28PM

    this is informative link and ban should be taken back

    Recommend

  • lahori
    Dec 28, 2012 - 10:55PM

    @Wali: if u r a student and donot know how to by pass proxy, then they should fail an incompetent. let the ban remain till they remove video and pay taxes to cbr or some1

    Recommend

  • Dec 31, 2012 - 11:37AM

    @Bewildered:
    Are you sure you are not Rehman Malik? Because you dont know jack about internet. Google doesnt host anything, it is just a search engine.
    Its like blaming the post office for prostitution just because it delivers mails to heera mandi.

    Recommend

  • Clear Black Bag
    Dec 31, 2012 - 11:45AM

    Useless ban and restriction on Youtube by the Pakistani government….

    Recommend

  • Ezhaar
    Jan 24, 2013 - 9:26PM

    @Tahir Yasin
    Heh Youtube is the largest video sharing on the WEB.LARGEST means LARGEST.
    And it is simply impossible to build something like youtube in less than 3 centuries.
    And Even Chinese protest against the blocking of NEARLY EVERY Website on the web and for their internet freedom have developed “UltraSurf” software

    Recommend

More in Pakistan