Filtering content: Court seeks regional offices for YouTube, Google

Published: June 26, 2013
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Disposes of petition against blasphemous content on Facebook. DESIGN: ANUSHAY FURQAN

Disposes of petition against blasphemous content on Facebook. DESIGN: ANUSHAY FURQAN

PESHAWAR: 

The Peshawar High Court (PHC) has directed the federal government to adopt the proposal of an inter-ministerial committee to sign treaties with Google, YouTube and other similar service providers to establish regional offices in the country.

PHC Chief Justice Dost Muhammad Khan and Justice Asadullah Khan Chamkani issued the orders on Tuesday while hearing Arif Jan’s application stating social media website Facebook contained blasphemous material. Jan had, however, refused to share the links in court fearing nationwide protests.

On May 28, the court ordered the pages in question be blocked within three days and sought a reply from the Ministry of Religious Affairs, Ministry of Information and Broadcasting, secret agencies and the Pakistan Telecommunication Authority (PTA).

During the case hearing on Tuesday, officials from the information ministry, PTA and interior ministry appeared in court.

The information ministry  official informed the pages have been blocked and a number of other pages containing pornographic and blasphemous content are being blocked daily upon receiving reports.

The court questioned why the ministry had to wait to receive complaints. Instead, it should adopt a procedure to automatically block such content before it reaches the people and results in nationwide protests and damaged public and private property, added the bench.

The PTA official replied no such system exists anywhere in the world. He further informed the court around 20,000 Uniform Resource Locators (URLs) have been banned for containing unwanted material.

He claimed the only solution to the problem was to get service providers like Google, YouTube and others to establish regional offices in Pakistan, adding they would then be liable to follow local laws. The official said the inter-ministerial committee looking into the matter has also proposed setting up such an office so that controversial content can be blocked.

The court observed Iran, India and some other countries have already adopted such measures and directed the federal government to expedite the process of enacting the proposals of the inter-ministerial committee. The petition was later disposed of.

Published in The Express Tribune, June 26th, 2013.

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Reader Comments (10)

  • Muhammad Kamran
    Jun 26, 2013 - 10:07AM

    Do you think , they will open the offices , despite of the security situation in country? First fix the security situation, then invite them!

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  • Jon
    Jun 26, 2013 - 10:34AM

    seems like pakistani’s and their courts have no productive to do.

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  • Jun 26, 2013 - 12:12PM

    @Muhammad Kamran:
    Google already has employees in Pakistan and does extensive business with Pakistani companies and individuals.

    But I agree that it will have to be “persuaded” to open offices here. If it opens an office here it will have to pay taxes and comply with local laws. Why would it rush to do that?

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  • Muhammad Kamran
    Jun 26, 2013 - 1:01PM

    @abdussamad

    In Pakistan Google is merely 1 person company. i.e Badar Khushnood. He is also not directly employed by Google.

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  • Jun 26, 2013 - 2:30PM

    Why would Google, Youtube etc wanna set up offices there? How would it gain them?

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  • adam khana
    Jun 26, 2013 - 3:53PM

    Desperate and lame attempt , internet is not a democracy , “if you dont like that , dont view that ” , its a simple phenomenon, is it very hard for confused people of my country to understand this basic concept ????

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  • Ghazain
    Jun 26, 2013 - 4:30PM

    So Pakistan wants to force two multinational companies to open local offices? We’re probably the laughing stock of the entire world. Since Youtube’s been banned, who’s suffered the most? We haven’t made a dent on Google’s profits and it doesn’t matter to them if we block Youtube. The Pakistani people have suffered the most. Youtube is an extremely informative website and blocking it has shown the world how thickheaded our policy makers are. As far as blasmphious content is concerned, Pakistan can easily filter it out. That’s what they do in Saudia Arabia and most Muslim countries. If Google had an office here, it would probably be attacked by the idiotic terrorists within the first few months of being established. That is the country we live in.

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  • Jun 26, 2013 - 4:58PM

    And who would work there? They’d be targets for terror groups.

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  • White Russian
    Jun 26, 2013 - 6:47PM

    “Since we want to presecute you, plaeas open an office here”. Companies from all over the world dying to get some lucrative witchhunting are flocking to take advantage of this generous offer.

    And we are the winners of award 2013 for being rediculous.

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  • THE BITTER TRUTH
    Jun 26, 2013 - 7:35PM

    CJ Dost Muhammad recently decided to abolish the preference graduates of govt medical colleges would get during their selection in PGMI (post graduate medical institute) of KPK.He thinks there is no difference between govt medical colleges as compared to private/chinese medical colleges.
    Now it is no rocket science to tell which is better.I mean given the option hardly anyone d go for a private/chinese medical college if they can qualify for a govt medical college.Only those who fail entry test and have millions of ruppees go to pvt/chinese medical colleges.
    Graduates from private and chinese medical colleges routinely achieve marks(v high) which are unthinkable to get in govt medical colleges.The result;graduates from govt medical colleges are dropping from the bottom of merit list of PGMI KPK.
    More doctors from chinese/russian/pvt medical colleges at the expense of graduates from govt medical colleges will deteriorate the quality of health care in KPK hospitals.

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