The video-sharing website was blocked by the Pakistan Telecommunication Authority (PTA) over ‘Innocence of Muslims,’ a blasphemous movie that angered Muslims around the world. – File Photo

KARACHI/LAHORE: Legal representatives of Google Inc. are expected to appear before the Lahore High Court (LHC) on Thursday, May 16, 2013 to explain the company’s position in the ongoing ‘Bytes For All versus Federation of Pakistan’ 958/2013 aka YouTube Case.

The video-sharing website was blocked by the Pakistan Telecommunication Authority (PTA) over ‘Innocence of Muslims,’ a blasphemous movie that angered Muslims around the world. Fearing a violent reaction and the subsequent denial of YouTube to remove the anti-Islam film, the website was blocked on September 18, 2012 on the orders of then prime minister Raja Pervez Ashraf. The site was back on earlier this year but was blocked once again after a few hours.

Meanwhile, a source close to Google said that the court had directed the Ministry of Information Technology to seek a response from the internet giant on the issue. No Google representative had accepted to appear before the court nor were they summoned, the source added.

In an earlier hearing, held on April 26, 2013, LHC’s Justice Syed Mansoor Ali Shah had ordered that Google appear on the next hearing and present its stance.

In the said hearing, the petitioner maintained that the only way forward was to ‘allow Google to incorporate and open a Pakistan office.’ Google had not taken this step because Pakistani laws did not provide for Intermediary Liability Protection (ILP), the court was informed.

To this, Justice Shah suggested that as an interim measure, the court through an order ‘can guarantee ILP, which could then be legislated upon.’

In the same hearing, Federal Ministry of Information Technology (MOIT) member (Legal) Mr Kamran was asked to explain the ministry’s position. The MOIT representative said that the ministry ‘recognises the blocking of YouTube as detrimental to freedom of speech.’

Justice Shah had stated that a way must be found to unblock YouTube as soon as possible, while treading carefully vis-à-vis the sensibilities that led to the block. He also suggested devising a regulatory mechanism so that ‘internet censorship does not become an exercise in arbitrary executive action.’

The LHC, in its order, had stated that Google be informed that the court will guarantee intermediary liability protection for it while legislators get around to legislating.

Consequently Google Singapore was sent a notice in this regard.

In a statement issued on Wednesday, the counsel for petitioner, advocate Yasser Latif Hamdani said that the YouTube ban took away the right of Muslims to respond to scurrilous attacks on Islam and the Holy Prophet (PBUH).

“The petitioner’s point of view is that all internet curbs are counterproductive and deprive Pakistanis the right to access of information as well as the right to counter any propaganda against the country or against what they believe in strongly.”

The petitioner maintained that efforts were underway to find a middle ground between internet freedom and offensive materials, adding: “Ultimately all curbs would hurt Pakistan more than it will hurt those who are engaging in scurrilous and offensive rhetoric.”

Meanwhile, the LHC has already begun exploring various ways in which Google, the parent organisation of YouTube, can be given Intermediary Liability Protection, so that it may be allowed to come and introduce Youtube.com.pk domain which would allow the reopening of YouTube in the country.

The YouTube Ban has also been challenged in the Peshawar High Court (PHC) by advocate Mian Mohibullah Kakakhel yesterday. He requested the PHC to direct the Pakistan Telecommunication Authority and ministry of interior to open the website (www.YouTube.com) for the benefit of public at large.

A Bloody Mess

The immediate ban in September last year did not do much to calm down the angry masses. Despite the fact that majority of the protesters had not seen the offensive clip and had only ‘heard’ about it, the news spread like wildfire.

The Love Our Prophet Day (Yom-e- Ishq-e-Rasool) protests in Pakistan saw at least 23 people dead in Karachi alone on September 21, 2012 as thousands of protesters went on an insanely destructive rampage. In Peshawar, five people including a policeman were killed.

Eight cinemas in Karachi and Peshawar, many banks and shops and a church in Mardan were vandalised and set on fire during the protests. ANP’s Ghulam Ahmed Bilour, then a cabinet minister, had announced a $100,000 bounty for killing Nakoula Basseley Nakoula, the producer of the said film.

The film sparked protests across the Middle East and was even thought to have caused the attack on the American Consulate in Benghazi, Libya which killed US Ambassador Christopher Stevens.

Pakistan Not The Only ‘Complainer’

It is worth noting that Pakistan is not alone in demanding the removal of ‘Innocence of Muslims’. According to Google’s annual Transparency Report, over 20 countries demanded the removal of the said video clip.

The countries that demanded removal of the offensive clip include Australia, Bangladesh, Brazil, Brunei, Djibouti, Egypt, India, Indonesia, Iran, Jordan, Lebanon, Malaysia, Maldives, Russia, Saudi Arabia, Singapore, Turkey, United Arab Emirates, and the United States.

“Australia, Egypt, and the United States requested that we review the videos to determine if they violated our Community Guidelines, which they did not. The other 17 countries requested that we remove the videos. We restricted videos from view in Indonesia, India, Jordan, Malaysia, Russia, Saudi Arabia, Singapore and Turkey. Due to difficult circumstances, we temporarily restricted videos from view in Egypt and Libya,” Google stated.

Despite requests by the White House to take the film off its sites, Google firmly refused, stating that ‘the film did not violate its rules or regulations.’

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Comments are closed.

Comments (31)

Ali Raza
May 16, 2013 4:48 am
A pride of nation is more worth than a social media like YouTube. Why challenging our ego, pride and proud?
Mohammad
May 16, 2013 6:32 pm
Any thing against muslim/Islam, these people will never find any voilation of law, however if any video which will hurt western interest and done by muslim can be ban quickly. This is what it is today. The world is with power nothing like Justice or right or wrong in today's world.
Afif
May 15, 2013 6:55 pm
Come on let it open..now!
soha
May 16, 2013 4:51 am
please open youtube as soon as possible
meher raza
May 15, 2013 7:01 pm
Blocking You Tube is not benefiting Pakistan, it is harming instead. Blocking is depriving the country of useful information. It should be people's choice what they want to watch and what not to.
Little Khan
May 15, 2013 9:15 pm
Depsite being an excellent move, the decision to unblock YouTube has arrived very late. We've waited way too long for this moment. Please, make us happy and unblock YouTube ASAP! Grant them the ILP without any hesitation.
afia
May 15, 2013 8:16 pm
So why would Google send a representative to appear before the Pakistani court? under what obligation? It does not do business in Pakistan so why should it bother?
sadiqkhoja
May 16, 2013 3:04 am
why Google can't just restrict the video access in Pakistan as it has done for other countries
Ahsen
May 16, 2013 3:05 am
Find alternative , do not depend on one source. Books have already been there for ages to gain knowledge and information. China has been blocking youtube since its creation and they made a alternative to youtube called youku so should Pakistan do it make their own youtube , we should not be dependent on this.
Zahra
May 16, 2013 3:29 am
But i can view youtube...
ysk
May 16, 2013 3:30 am
youtube doesnt put video in your face unless you are looking for it........
Mustafa
May 15, 2013 9:35 pm
If youtube doesn't restrict its viewing in Pakistan and we lift the ban from youtube and people in Pakistan see that video, what possibly can happen? Most probably more bloodshed. Who will be responsible for that. It is this responsibility that needs to be fixed before lifting the ban on youtube.
M Ali Khan
May 16, 2013 2:53 am
What has the ban actually achieved for Pakistan except ridicule?
Naveed Glasgow UK
May 16, 2013 12:05 am
Free media does not mean. you are free to offend certain faiths and beliefs. should learn to respect each other. Right of freedom should come with some sort of responsibility. Its not impossible to have certain code of conduct in life infact discipline and respect is what distinguishes human race
BEA
May 16, 2013 4:08 pm
Poor Google are having such a bad time at htis moment they are in bug trouble in the UK for none payment of Tax along with Amazon now more bad news.
BEA
May 16, 2013 4:09 pm
what did these students do before they found You Tube.?
Nadir Ali
May 16, 2013 9:57 am
Life of 28 people killed because of refusal of google is not important? All google needs to do is pull the plug on that video. Google should be made acountable. Just because Pakistanis are third world dwellers it is easy to treat us like trash? Think of country men first, theey are blind followers of faith.
janan
May 16, 2013 8:37 am
Who are losing here... Google? I thinks they dont care of for less then 1 million Pakistani Internet user. Pakistani who use youtube and other online services not just for entertainment but also for learning. Instead of blocking the whole thing why not get a decent filtering solution (there are plenty of them in the market) which could be use to block only offending contents.
Dilawer
May 16, 2013 1:14 am
Youtube ban is harming lots of students who are denied access to lectures and many other extremely useful procedures and techniques. People who are responsible have no clue how many opportunities are daily lost by not being part of the global community. I want to show the self irrigation planting procedure while I was in Karachi but thanks to PTA that I could not access the videos.
Dilawer
May 16, 2013 1:15 am
Youtube ban is harming lots of students who are denied access to lectures and many other extremely useful procedures and techniques. People who are responsible have no clue how many opportunities are daily lost by not being part of the global community. I wanted to show the self irrigation planting procedure while I was in Karachi but thanks to PTA that I could not access the videos.
bilal
May 16, 2013 8:16 am
my earlier comments were rejected by AUTHORITIES< WONDERING WHY????. so i was trying to say YoUtube/google cant give us any extra useful information. I am not using youtube/google search in UK since that incident but never felt that i am loosing anything. but now some people definately want it back, God knows why. UK is running a compaign to boycott GOOGLe because it ius not paying local taxes. OUR CAUSE is more justified and powerful than that. why are we backing out now?
Shuu
May 15, 2013 10:59 pm
People should just use proxies to access Youtube and Google in Pakistan.
Ali
May 15, 2013 11:42 pm
shut down internet because it came through internet
Ali
May 15, 2013 11:42 pm
smash computer because we can see from this device
Akil Akhtar
May 15, 2013 11:49 pm
What useful information, it is a blessing in disguise as our youth are saving hours wasted on rubbish videos.
rizwan
May 16, 2013 7:15 am
I agree that blocking youtube is not good, and its really bad for those who use it to learn things... but this also shows the biased behavior of technology giants, they follow the rules which suites them and doesn't care about others, post anything against israel or pro hitler is not allowed, they remove it as soon as they finds such content, but when anything which hurts billion of muslims they dont care...
Open Minded
May 16, 2013 6:35 am
If people from other beliefs are posting wrong vidoes or offensive videos, OUR people should be smart enough and simple not view it. Best treatment is silent treatment. Also, its advance technology simply block that 'specific video' here in Pakistan. OH and as if we have not downloaded YouTube unblocker on our PCs! Just turn it on :)
Akbar
May 16, 2013 6:23 am
It is actually a blessing in disguise for Pakistani people that youtube is banned. Most of the surfing od the website was, obviously, for no useful reasons, and with this ban, those who actually want to benefit from the youtube can visit it through proxy websites in any case. Doesn't make any difference for me.
Brandsynario
May 16, 2013 6:09 am
Youtube is a great video portal for sharing and learning new things many people in Pakistan get benefit from it as well if the govt takes proper actions with collaboration of Google it will be a good step
Fahad Idrees
May 16, 2013 5:48 am
In fact blocking the you tube harms the younger generation.One can find there lots of the free tutorials there i.e programming, management, technical for novices to professional. The people in Pakistan who know how to use internet used you tube fluently because one can easily find lots of material for help. We demand European media to remove the blasphemous movie and if they don't remove the video than PTA should filter those videos and open the you tube as this is most needed website to learn,entertain etc
Umair
May 16, 2013 5:37 pm
I second you... Even if all tech back out form Pak, they would lose only 0.1-0.5% of their world share..who care about ignorant and damned nation!
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