11 Jun 2013

Pakistan to Ban Google for Not Cleaning up YouTube

Pakistan’s new IT and telecommunication minister is concerned about the “blasphemous and objectionable material” on YouTube and threatens to ban Google in the country, unless the company sanitizes the video sharing platform, The Time of India reports.

"It all depends on our negotiation clout," minister Anusha Rahman Khan said while explaining how Pakistan is ready to end the existing YouTube ban that began in September in response to the controversial film “Innocence of Muslims”. "If they persist with their stance, we can block Google in Pakistan as a last resort as there are many alternative search engines available on the Web," Khan added.

This would not be the first time Pakistan restricts its citizens’ access to YouTube. It also happened in 2008 in response to a video criticizing Islam that scandalized several Middle Eastern groups and fueled violent protests.

Through its IT and telecommunication ministry, Pakistan asks Google to set up a filtering system and clean YouTube of all inappropriate content. If the company fails to do that, the website will remain blocked for all Pakistani citizens.

"We will pump in extra money if needed and do whatever is in our capacity to bring YouTube back to Pakistan without compromising our ethical values," Khan said."We cannot face the embarrassment of opening the website and closing it again after protests. We have to ensure that proper filtration system is in place before we open the website."

Google, however, doesn’t have such a filtering system yet: "We offer a localized version of YouTube in 49 countries around the world. In each localized country, we offer local content that is more relevant to users in that country and we also abide by that country's laws," Google’s Zeffri Yusof said in an interview for the Daily Times. "When we are notified that a video is illegal, we will restrict access to it in that country after a thorough review."