National Assembly session: ‘Ban to stay till YouTube localised’

Published: March 28, 2015
IT ministry says laws being drafted to monitor video-sharing website. PHOTO: AFP

IT ministry says laws being drafted to monitor video-sharing website. PHOTO: AFP

ISLAMABAD: YouTube will only be accessible in Pakistan after Google allows the country to manage the video-sharing website locally for proper monitoring, the state minister for information technology (IT) has said.

Anusha Rehman, during the question hour in the National Assembly on Friday, said that legislation to localise YouTube in Pakistan was under way.

“A draft bill has been tabled in the National Assembly’s Standing Committee on IT and once it is passed by parliament, the government will pursue Google to give Pakistan the rights to locally manage the website,” she said, adding that such websites are operating under American laws and do not fall in the ambit of Pakistani laws. “It is necessary to bring them under Pakistani laws to avoid objectionable material on them.”

The popular video-sharing website has been blocked in the country since September 2012 after a low-budget movie containing sacrilegious content sparked furious protests around the world. At the time, the country’s top court ruled the site should be banned until a way is found to block all blasphemous material. Google had removed the movie following a US court order but its shorter versions are still available online.

Speaking in the National Assembly, Rehman claimed YouTube was banned in some other Muslim countries also. “Where it is still operating, it has been done after proper legislation and localisation,” she said. “The purpose of the new initiative is to ensure a check on blasphemous material and avoid future resentment against the website.”

Raja Javed Ikhlas, the cabinet division parliamentary secretary, told the lower house the government was making laws in light of the apex court’s decision regarding YouTube. “These websites hurt the emotions of Muslims across the world and in Pakistan as well. Therefore, proper legislation is required before opening them,” he said in response to questions by MNAs Shazia Marri and Shamsunnisa Memon.

Ikhlas admitted the website was blocked completely as the country had no technical solution to control objectionable material. In this situation, he added, an intermediary liability protection will be added to the laws as done by other countries.

Published in The Express Tribune, March 28th, 2015.

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