YouTube to remain blocked in Pakistan 'indefinitely': officials

By AFP
Published: February 7, 2015
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PHOTO: AFP

PHOTO: AFP

ISLAMABAD: YouTube will remain blocked in Pakistan ‘indefinitely’, an official said on Saturday, as experts have failed to find a way to filter content deemed offensive and blasphemous.

The video-sharing website has been blocked in Pakistan since September 2012 over its hosting of the “Innocence of Muslims” movie that sparked furious protests around the world.

The Supreme Court ruled at the time that the site should be banned until a way was found to block all so-called blasphemous content.

“(The) matter was reviewed several times but the situation effectively remains the same,” the minister for information technology and telecommunication Anusha Rehman told the Senate on Friday.

“The government does not want to take any chance and wants to make sure that after unblocking YouTube, no offensive content remains viewable in Pakistan,” a senior government official told AFP.

“So far no tool or solution has been found which can totally block offensive content, that is why YouTube remains blocked and it will remain so indefinitely,” the official said.

Free speech campaigners in Pakistan have long complained of creeping censorship in the name of protecting religion or preventing obscenity, and have described the ban on YouTube as a violation of civil rights.

In November 2011 the telecommunications authority tried to ban nearly 1,700 “obscene” words from text messages, which included innocuous terms such as “lotion”, “athlete’s foot” and “idiot”.

In 2010 Pakistan shut down Facebook for nearly two weeks over its hosting of allegedly blasphemous pages. It continues to restrict thousands of online links.

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Reader Comments (23)

  • Chachoo
    Feb 7, 2015 - 5:37PM

    In Pakistan the situation is simple. If you dont like some book in a library then burn down that whole library.
    Also why not ban the whole Internet as Blasphemous videos are not only hosted on youtube but on thousands of other websites as well. The best way is to ban the Internet as a whole.

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  • Honky Tonk Man
    Feb 7, 2015 - 5:38PM

    ” “The government does not want to take any chance and wants to make sure that after unblocking YouTube, no offensive content remains viewable in Pakistan,” a senior government official told AFP. “

    Who defines what offensive is? Are they going to block all science vs religion debates where the religious people get their arguments utterly destroyed? If logic and reason are offensive, why not ban the internet altogether? And why stop with the internet, lets ban books and education too.

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  • Zaida Parvez
    Feb 7, 2015 - 5:50PM

    Better to ban all internet access in Pakistan. There is way too much blasphemy on the internet.

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  • ZN
    Feb 7, 2015 - 5:54PM

    Shameful!! Disgusting!! What a retarded thinking and reasoning! The world is going n progressive direction and we are in reverse gear. Laanaat on these incompetent and corrupt people in the govt.

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  • vaqas
    Feb 7, 2015 - 5:57PM

    What rubbish.

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  • Zain
    Feb 7, 2015 - 5:59PM

    We are going no where. So many education opportunities are being missed. Web portals and tutorials. Pakistan sucks.

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  • sane voice
    Feb 7, 2015 - 6:26PM

    so we basically like to kill the messenger

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  • yousafhaque
    Feb 7, 2015 - 6:28PM

    Did anyone ever care to check the degrees of the experts?

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  • Fuad
    Feb 7, 2015 - 6:32PM

    I’m sure most of the pakistanis are anyway accessing Youtube via VPNs.

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  • Mumtaz Q
    Feb 7, 2015 - 7:05PM

    I agree with the government. Otherwise the whole nation will watch that blasphemous movie and and deviate from their religion. We have deviated from our religion enough already, this movie tip the balance over.

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  • woody
    Feb 7, 2015 - 8:06PM

    If you don’t have the guts to take on the religious extremist your never going to climb out of the hole you have put yourself in. You have the physical courage to confront the extremist you apparently lack the moral courage.

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  • rohit950723
    Feb 7, 2015 - 8:19PM

    @Mumtaz Q… By your logic electricity should be also banned in Pakistan..

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  • Sara
    Feb 7, 2015 - 8:39PM

    Not surprisingly incompetence is prevalent in this family friend led department as well. Three years plus and the so called experts don’t even have a clue or a strategy and are awaiting a miracle. In the meantime the nation is enjoying youtube through alternate ways.

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  • Me
    Feb 7, 2015 - 10:42PM

    What a pathetic excuse! Blasphemous content is available all over the internet are they going to ban that too?Recommend

  • Sharez Qureshi
    Feb 7, 2015 - 11:41PM

    Oh well, Pakistan could simply have “asked” – see I said ASKED – Youtube and they’d have made the offensive videos unavailable in Pakistan, but being the Jageerdar our leaders are we demanded the videos to be taken down, completely from the website.

    Youtube has done similar things for Egypt and Turkey, there is no reason why they’d not comply to polite request from Pakistan.

    That being said, exactly what purpose is the ban serving? People who believe the videos to be offensive won’t even watch it, I still use Youtube, but never felt the craving to browse some crap and waste my bandwidth. The people who on the other hand are the target audience, aren’t in Pakistan at first place so excuse me but the justification of banning is beyond me. Recommend

  • numbersnumbers
    Feb 7, 2015 - 11:42PM

    Second try
    YouTube is available in all major MUSLIM COUNTRIES (Saudi Arabia!) because they have installed YouTube Localized Hubs to censor content for their respective countries!!!
    That option is obviously beyoud the technical capabilities of PAKISTAN, where the government pretends that it is not possible to accomplish that ( though localized hubs are being used by more than 50 countries worldwide)!!!Recommend

  • ABC
    Feb 7, 2015 - 11:59PM

    @rohit950723:

    Do you know the meanings of Sarcasm? Ohhh you are an Indian, then dont worry that comment was for people with common sense Recommend

  • k janjua
    Feb 8, 2015 - 1:15AM

    Is Islam as a religion THAT fragile or its belief of people on Islam.Recommend

  • Gp65
    Feb 8, 2015 - 2:09AM

    @Sharez Qureshi:
    “Oh well, Pakistan could simply have “asked” – see I said ASKED – Youtube and they’d have made the offensive videos unavailable in Pakistan, but being the Jageerdar our leaders are we demanded the videos to be taken down, completely from the website”

    If Pakistan had a country specific youtube installation, Pakistan could not only have asked but demanded any specific videos that it wanted removed and youtube would have complied. However having country specific implementation requires certain conditions to be met and Pakistan is unwilling to agree. As such, Pakistanis used to see the exact same youtube that Americans did before it was banned in Pakistan. Thus whether Pakistan asked or demanded, it would not get what it wanted because it would imply censorship over what Americans could watch on youtube.Recommend

  • numbersnumbers
    Feb 8, 2015 - 8:39AM

    Might the good journalists at ET ever write about the availability of YouTube through localized hubs (for censoring content) across the globe (in all Muslim countries among others), BUT NOT IN PAKSTAN!Recommend

  • Haris
    Feb 9, 2015 - 4:56PM

    What a ridiculous decision !!! ….. This will remain a country of incompetent fools… !! Blasphemous content is available all over the internet !! all video sharing site all social website newspapers articles …… why not ban them all …. i can access whatever blasphemous content I want right now from my computer in Pakistan…. Stop being so utterly ridiculous Recommend

  • Haris
    Feb 9, 2015 - 5:03PM

    This is just ridiculous…. ban all internet why just youtube !Recommend

  • May 6, 2015 - 12:46AM

    Youtube is banned on 10 different countries, Alltime10s have collected 10 countries that have banned YouTube at one point of time or another, and explain the history behind the bans. The countries listed are: Brazil, Turkey, Germany, Libya, Thailand, Turkmenistan, China, North Korea, Iran, and Pakistan. We should not think that only in Pakistan is blocked, 10 countries are also facing same error.Recommend

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