Pakistan unblocks YouTube after Google launches local version

YouTube was blocked in Pakistan from 2012

Pakistan has lifted a ban on YouTube in the country after Google offered a localized version, which the government claims will allow it to ask for the removal of material considered offensive from the website.

YouTube was ordered blocked in Pakistan in 2012 after a controversial video, called the "Innocence of Muslims," created a controversy in many countries for mocking the Prophet Muhammad.

Pakistan authorities told a court that they were blocking the whole domain because it was not technically feasible for them to block specific links to the video.

Google announced last week localized versions of YouTube in Pakistan, Sri Lanka and Nepal, suggesting that the company had arrived at a deal with Pakistan. Google did not comment on whether a deal had been made. Pakistan's telecom regulator, Pakistan Telecommunications Authority (PTA) also did not comment on the new .pk version of YouTube.

On Monday, the country's ministry for communications and information said that Google has provided an online web process "through which requests for blocking access of offending material can be made by the PTA to Google directly and Google/YouTube will accordingly restrict access to the said offending material for users within Pakistan," according to reports.

Internet service provider, Pakistan Telecommunication Company, welcomed YouTube on its Facebook page.

Civil rights groups in Pakistan have been concerned about a deal between Google and the Pakistan government, as it could aid censorship. Bolo Bhi has asked the government to provide details on the nature of any agreement. "Users have a right to know what terms have been agreed to and what it means for them," it added.

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John Ribeiro

IDG News Service
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