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Pakistan bans YouTube after it refuses to block movie

18 September, 2012

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ISLAMABAD: Video-sharing website YouTube was blocked across Pakistan on Monday flowing orders by Prime Minister Raja Pervez Ashraf.

Taking cognisance of the blasphemous film uploaded on YouTube, the PM issued strict instructions to the Ministry of Information Technology to block access to YouTube throughout the country with immediate effect.

The directions were given after YouTube refused to heed to the advice of the Pakistan government to remove the blasphemous film from the website. The PM said blasphemous material would not be tolerated and the services of YouTube would remain suspended until removal of the blasphemous material.

Earlier, the Supreme Court was informed that YouTube management had rejected the Pakistan Telecommunication Authority's (PTA) request to remove blasphemous video clips about the Holy Prophet (PBUH) by saying that it does not have any such agreement with the government of Pakistan. In view of the court's order, the PTA director general told the three-member bench, headed by Chief Justice of Pakistan Iftikhar Muhammad Chaudhry, that it had written a letter to YouTube requesting the removal of such clips, but the video-sharing website replied it did not have any such agreement with the government of Pakistan. He said almost 100 new clips of the anti-Islam film were uploaded on YouTube every day.

The DG also told the bench that the authority had been vigorously monitoring and blocking the anti-Islam video from the World Wide Web. He also furnished a list of 753 anti-Islam websites, which were blocked on the Internet by the PTA, adding that out of these, over 650 URLs had been banned on YouTube.

Earlier, the court took notice over the application, filed by Akram Sheikh and Taufiq Asif drawing the court's attention towards the anti-Islam film made in the US. They said in Pakistan, this film, which contains blasphemous material, was still available on the video-sharing website, therefore, the PTA was under legal obligation to control such content. They requested the bench to issue direction to the PTA to block the film on YouTube. The court directed the PTA chairman to immediately block the offensive material on YouTube and other websites.

Meanwhile, hearing another case against obscenity on the media, the court directed PEMRA to lay down commonly accepted standards of decency, keeping in view Article 37(g) of the constitution and other relevant laws, and take measures to control obscenity within two weeks. The PTA chairman was ordered to submit a report to the court registrar.

A three-judge bench issued the directions after proceeding on a constitutional petition moved by Justice (r) Wajihuddin and Qazi Hussain Ahmed over alleged obscenity on television. Hearing of the case was adjourned for three weeks.


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