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Google may localise YouTube for Pakistani users

Published Dec 11, 2013 07:07am


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Over 2700 URLs on YouTube have so far been blocked, according to the IT minister. — File Photo
Over 2700 URLs on YouTube have so far been blocked, according to the IT minister. — File Photo

ISLAMABAD, Dec 10: A new arrangement with the management of Google/YouTube has brightened the chance of YouTube being unblocked in Pakistan.

If certain conditions of the Google management are met, YouTube will be accessible as, a local search engine.

This was stated by Minister of State for Information Technology and Telecommunications Anusha Rehman at Senate Standing Committee on Tuesday.

She explained to the committee that the government had succeeded in convincing the Google management about religious sensitivities of Pakistanis.The local search engine will also make it easier to block any blasphemous or objectionable content, she said.

However, the management of Google will do so after the government of Pakistan meets some of its conditions, she maintained.

“Management of Google/YouTube has shown its willingness to localise YouTube in Pakistan provided they will not be held responsible if blasphemous content is placed and uploaded on its website,” the minister said.

“The web service will not be held responsible for blasphemous content uploaded on its sites as that will be a personal action of the individual,” the minister said while quoting the Google management.

“The Pakistan Telecommunication Authority (PTA) is finalising a draft ordinance which will be processed by the ministry for enactment as law,” said the minister.

Breaking the news to members of the Senate Standing Committee on Information Technology and Telecommunications, Anusha Rehman explained that once YouTube was localised, blocking objectionable content would be easier.

“Instead of installing costly filtration mechanisms, Google will easily be able to block blasphemous content on the request of the Pakistan government.

“Saudi Arabia and Malaysia have also reached a similar arrangement with Google,” Anusha Rehman said.

Localising YouTube would also mean that Google would not be violating its own company law of hindering freedom of expression, the state minister explained. This was also a request from the management of Google to the government of Pakistan.

The largest video sharing website was blocked on September 17, 2012 by the Inter-Ministerial Committee (IMC).

The minister said a team was also being tasked in the PTA to monitor obnoxious content including blasphemy on the website.

Responding to a question from the members, the minister said she could not give an exact date for the re-opening of YouTube.

The new Chairman PTA Dr Ismail Shah however said: “It can be unblocked anytime; tomorrow or after weeks.”

According to Anusha Rehman, blocking thousands of links was also not a solution. “It can take Google five seconds to place certain blocked content from one internet protocol (IP) address to a new one,” she said explaining the technicalities.

A sub-committee was formed to investigate and assist the Ministry of Information Technology in speeding up the process to make YouTube accessible to Pakistani users.

Meanwhile, the Standing Committee also took up matters concerning auction of 3G which is likely to take place by first week of March 2014, according to Anusha Rehman.

Five consultants have been short-listed out of the seven international firms to ensure transparency in auction of 3G spectrum, the officials of the ministry informed the meeting.

Taking up other matters on the agenda, the committee expressed its dissatisfaction over poor utilisation of $62 billion lying under the Universal Services Funds (USF).

It also directed the ministry to check grey trafficking, which cost the government roughly $500 million monthly.


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Comments (18) Closed

Ali Dec 11, 2013 08:56am

In Reply To

According to Anusha Rehman, blocking thousands of links was also not a solution.

Wasio Ali Khan Abbasi Dec 11, 2013 10:02am

$62 billion? Kindly correct this figure, it is equivalent to the foreign debt Pakistan had a few years ago.

Iqbal bhai Dec 11, 2013 12:44pm

Sensible and practical approach.

salma Dec 11, 2013 01:13pm

Really glad to know google will localize the search engines we are not able to see lots of online tutorials from google its self and lots of other informative videos Of course I do want to see some songs and movies on YouTube too but most important are the educational tutorials

Yousaf Dec 11, 2013 01:19pm

Last two paragraphs. I think those amounts are in Rupees not dollars.

Pakistani Dec 11, 2013 04:25pm

You tube should not be localised.

Adnan Dec 11, 2013 04:29pm

PTA does not have skills and expertise to do anything complex. Recently they have already messed up with Call Centers and BPOs by blocking their IPs during deployment of a new firewall.

atif khan Dec 11, 2013 04:37pm

@Ali: what else can we expect from her, she has a degree in law and economics.that why i say people with right background for right job and when it not happening we refer to it as incompetency

Najam ul Hassan Dec 11, 2013 05:25pm

It is a matter of great regret that Pakistan's goverment and its bureaucracy is apathetic. Several of the important matters are often overlooked, people at the big desks have no time for their own public, their grievances are put down. Sectarian war is at pinnacle, several disputes within the same nation are arousing. What a misfortune is Pakistani people tolerating. If the serious measures are not taken up by the Islamabad, there could be a great chaotic situation.

ali imran Dec 11, 2013 05:52pm

Instead of localizing you tube, how about simply making the conscious choice of NOT watching the objectionable video . Youtube is not about to remove the video (despite all the outcry) and by localisiing it we lose a lot of other good things that the worldwide community provides. This is an entirely useless exercise by the government that simply has no other significant achievements to boast about. How about the price of oil, rise in value of dollars, power blackouts and try providing the people of the country basic resources for a change instead of wasting our time with idiotic activities that benefit no one.

Ali Dec 11, 2013 06:12pm

@salma: You could do that by using any reasonable vpn server.

MG Dec 11, 2013 09:53pm

Legalized censorship - good job PTA. Why stop there - why not create a subnet of the Internet and only populate with government approved content? This way we will all be righteous and follow the uniform curriculum of what we should learn and not what we should be learning. So glad we live in a free and fair democracy.

KB Dec 12, 2013 05:48am

something is better than nothing.

loyal Dec 12, 2013 04:01pm

with the skill and talent we have in pakistan we can easily put together better video sharing than youtube which is more focused on education rather than disgusting adverts on youtube. better for society

Safwan Dec 13, 2013 02:28am

Nice to read this, some progress made at last.

Rana Ehtsham Dec 13, 2013 06:43am

Youtube has to be unblocked as its an open source for new learners! So i Appreciate this PTA Chairman!

Krish Dec 13, 2013 01:53pm

@loyal: This is not about development. It is about richness of content.....

ARSH Dec 14, 2013 10:34am

I don't understand Pak govt. Youtube is accessible throughout Pakistan, with simple ip address change. Why don't you unblock the rather trying to work around and ultimately you end up with same problem. Localizing youtube is not a solution.