YouTube ban: IT Minister to appear in court on August 7

Published: August 2, 2013

The petitioner sought directions for the Ministry of IT and the PTA to reopen the functioning of YouTube. PHOTO: FILE

LAHORE: Lahore High Court has asked minister and secretary of Information Technology to appear before the court on August 7 in a petition challenging the ban on access to video sharing website YouTube in Pakistan after he failed to appear on Friday.

An additional secretary for the minister appeared before the court and said that the minister was busy in the preparation of the IT policy.

A deputy attorney general submitted before the court that the secretary could not appear before the court due to an eye infection. He also submitted that the government was not allowing access to the website due to ‘security concerns’.

At this the judge remarked that access to internet could not be denied and it was up to the people to make decisions at such points.

During earlier hearings, the director of Bolo Bhi Farieha Aziz, an expert in the matter, had submitted before the court that there was no way of restricting access to information on the internet.

She added that a simple solution would be to not to watch the objectionable content available on the internet.

Empowering the state to make such decisions for the people at large sets a dangerous precedent, she said. Without intermediary liability protection as a primer, no company would be willing to have local laws applied on it. However, that was not reason enough for a company to localise, she added.

Aziz said that surveillance and filtering software were in place in the country and that the technology side of the debate would remain murky till the debate on what systems were currently in place in Pakistan was established.

Allowing such technology to be placed in the hands of state authorities would be the equivalent of giving them a carte blanche for setting up roadblocks wherever they pleased, restricting access to areas and breaking into citizens’ homes, she said.

The court in its previous order had remarked that it was important to understand the nature of the problem. Information over the internet in this age could not be blocked, but could be intelligently regulated, it said.

There were no borders or walls that could limit the information from flowing into Pakistan unless of course Pakistan shut down the internet completely and severed its links with the outside world, it said.

A sustainable answer to the problem was self regulation at the individual and house-hold level, the court said.

The court was hearing a petition challenging the YouTube ban filed by an NGO Bytes for All through its advocate Yasir Hamdani. He submitted that filtering and blocking information on the internet was counterproductive and predatory.

The petitioner sought directions for the Ministry of IT and the PTA to reopen the functioning of YouTube.

YouTube was blocked across Pakistan on September 17, 2012 following orders by then-Prime Minister Raja Pervez Ashraf. The PM had imposed the ban after YouTube refused to remove what the Pakistani government felt was a blasphemous film, The Innocence of the Muslims, from its website.

Reader Comments (25)

  • Aug 2, 2013 - 2:58PM

    Be Logical, By blocking Youtube we ourselves are Suffering ! Not the WEST !Recommend

  • ather
    Aug 2, 2013 - 3:07PM

    Why are they wasting there time people are already using proxy or vpn to access whatever they want.

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  • Juko
    Aug 2, 2013 - 3:12PM

    Im hearing some intelligent discussion/arguments taking place on this issue for the first time!

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  • GS@Y
    Aug 2, 2013 - 3:18PM

    Very well argued by the petitioners. Things seem to be moving on the Youtube ban at least, and the LHC too seems sympathetic.

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  • PakPower
    Aug 2, 2013 - 3:21PM

    “At this the judge remarked that access to internet could not be denied and it was up to the people to make decisions at such points.”
    The only sane thing I heard from a judge during this whole Youtube fiasco. I hope LHC doesn’t let us down like PHC did.

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  • waztaz
    Aug 2, 2013 - 3:40PM

    Google is begging Pakistan to reopen youtube after reportedly going bankrupt because of the ban. My personal opinion is that we should not reopen that website. I think we should all teach these yahoodi’s a lesson. Only when google’s CEO publicly himself apologises to us before the supreme court and Cheif Justice Iftikhar Chaudhary for maligning the court and giving a bad name to the country, only then we should remove the ban.

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  • LUMS
    Aug 2, 2013 - 4:06PM

    @waztaz: OMG!! Really? Are you for REAL?

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  • Pawail
    Aug 2, 2013 - 4:06PM

    @waztaz:

    Google went bankrupt?!?!?!?!?!? In which universe? Jahaalat ki hadd hai yaar.

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  • Tamur
    Aug 2, 2013 - 4:15PM

    @waztaz: Your comments are so funny and pointless. Google would not go bankrupt just because Pakistan has banned it. What do Muslims have against Yahoodis anyways? If God Wanted to wipe out Yahoodis He Would Have done so, but they have survived 2 world wars and all of torture of the world and are still living. They are people of the book as well. And Pakistan is only giving itself a bad name by banning knowledge and keeping its people in the dark.

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  • ali
    Aug 2, 2013 - 4:28PM

    HOTSPOT SHIELD rocks

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  • Saad
    Aug 2, 2013 - 4:37PM

    @waztaz:

    “Google is begging Pakistan to reopen youtube after reportedly going bankrupt because of the ban”. Do you mind citing the source of this claim? Google is still making massive ever increasing profit, regardless if Pakistan keeps the ban on youtube or not. The ones who suffer are companies in Pakistan, who have paid for their advert or are depending their business on youtube. Secondly, why does Google need to apologize when they are not even responsible or involved in the making of the film? As long as they are working within their copyright and privacy laws, they don’t give a flying chappal for what kind of videos people are posting.

    Keep your facts right before you make such a claim. I would respect your freedom of opinion but this is really bogus and idiotic.

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  • Scarcasm
    Aug 2, 2013 - 4:59PM

    I think “wartaz” was being scarcastic!!

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  • jibran
    Aug 2, 2013 - 5:06PM

    @LUMS:
    @Tamur:
    @Saad:
    @waztaz:
    I guess he is being sarcastic.

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  • Silas
    Aug 2, 2013 - 5:47PM

    Guys waztaz is being sarcastic take it easy.

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  • Aug 2, 2013 - 5:51PM

    its in ur hand to go on a bad way or wrong. It is nt solution to tackle the issue. Youbtube should be opened

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  • Gibran
    Aug 2, 2013 - 5:57PM

    My general response to this nonsense topic is that I don’t care. I still use YouTube whenever I want ,and dont really care if my backward countrymen choose to be sheep rather than self regulate their actions and thought when on the Internet (or while living in general).

    I must, however, say that this is the first intelligent response from a judge on the topic. It was quit unexpected, especially when the article began with an ‘eye infection’ excuse and ‘security concerns’ rationale.

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  • unbelievable
    Aug 2, 2013 - 6:40PM

    Ban the internet, destroy your cell phones, toss your PC’s, laptops and tablets – show those nasty Western infidels that you mean business.

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  • AcharGosht
    Aug 2, 2013 - 6:50PM

    Who is the IT Minister anyway?

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  • Leela
    Aug 2, 2013 - 7:54PM

    Youtube ban can be removed and in its place introduce law similar to blasphemy law of punishing anyone demmed to have watched material that is detrimental or objectionable to Islam and Muslims.

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  • It Is (still) Economy Stupid
    Aug 2, 2013 - 8:32PM

    Jinnah was closet Amish: Jinnah envisioned a country where there will be no electricity, no telephone (phone service will cut off for security reasons), no internet (no you tube, no Facebook) no motorized vehicle (no fuel at fuel stations) and people will be expected to use horse carriages, no work on lord’s day of rest (read Friday) and religion will be center of the society etc. OMG he was right and his vision is coming true.

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  • Rehman
    Aug 3, 2013 - 2:52AM

    I wholeheartedly agree with the YouTube ban. There’s nothing that useful on that website anyway. Plus, it tempts me to view immoral stuff. I wish Pakistan would ban other search websites too, because immoral material can easily be searched for. In fact, online Pakistani newspapers should be banned too, because many of them show glitzy images of immoral Bollywood actresses, which bring about sudden longings in me. We were fine before the internet, so we’ll do just fine without it. I thought we fought long and hard for a country where Muslims could live freely and without worry. Why should we be strangled by the presence of immoral forces? Let India have YouTube, they deserve nothing better. They think they’re making technological progress, but on judgment day, it will be us who are riding fine Arabian horses into the sky and whatnot.

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  • np
    Aug 3, 2013 - 3:23AM

    @Leela: “Youtube ban can be removed and in its place introduce law similar to blasphemy law of punishing anyone demmed to have watched material that is detrimental or objectionable to Islam and Muslims.”

    Question : Is porn objectionable to Muslims?

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  • Again&Again_GrowUp!!!
    Aug 3, 2013 - 4:44AM

    I’m sorry, these people need to GROW UP and stop living under the illusion that they have more right to get angry than anyone else when someone makes fun of their religion. I mean, honestly, if most Christians or Jews got THIS offended everytime someone made fun of Christianity or Judaism online, the world would be a very violent place.
    And for crying out loud, people…..
    IT’S A YOUTUBE VIDEO MADE BY A GUY WHO MAKES PORN!The whole purpose of Innocence of Muslims is to offend you, and these people fell for it hook, line, and sinker.

    YouTube is not all about that stupid movie, it’s also about educations, entertainments, musics, animations etc etc, In Saudi Arabia YouTube is still working. Why? Because King of KSA used his brain and didn’t blocked YouTube. Again, you guys need to grow up. Just block the URL of the video so no one can access in Pakistan rather than just blocking the whole site, I am a animator and I upload animations on YouTube and soon I will move to Pakistan, at this point I will be in under pressure because YouTube will be blocked in Pakistan and I will have no other way around to upload my animations on YouTube, SERIOUSLY. GROW. UP!

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  • peacemaker
    Aug 3, 2013 - 5:22AM

    @achargosht:she is anusha rehman khan.
    @wartaz:you are being sarcastic

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  • Luciferous
    Aug 3, 2013 - 7:18PM

    Is it true that starting Sep 2013, anyone using “Bathroom break” without Supreme Court’s permission will be charged with contempt of court?

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