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YouTube ban

Updated Sep 15, 2014 06:07am

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— File photo
— File photo

IT’S been two years since the ban, and everyone seems to have forgotten. Those who know how continue accessing YouTube using proxy servers.

Those who don’t know how have simply moved on with life, using other video-sharing websites as a substitute. In the middle, at some point that nobody cares to remember, the site was briefly restored, then taken off again.

Little trace of this website seems to be left in our lives now, except for a collective sigh of resignation with which we have come to terms with the fact that arbitrarily imposed internet censorship is yet another fact of life that we must learn to live with.

Also Read: YouTube ban solution is in hand

If this was only about YouTube, it would be nothing more than a sad story.

The site is not entirely absent from our lives, as is evidenced by the fact that daily talk shows from local TV channels continue being uploaded on it, as well as clips from news coverage. Clearly people have found ways to get around the closure.

The same technology which gives us the means with which to block sites gives us the tools to get around the blockages put up by government.

The absurdity of the whole affair is compounded by the hypocrisy. We have a Freedom of Information Act, for instance, which allowed the net freedoms activist group, Bolo Bhi, to access the documents that detail the mechanism through which the government determines which sites will be blocked and which ones won’t.

The document shows that the decision is made by a committee comprised of six government officials.

And the same document tells us that this committee has no record of ever having met, eight years after it was constituted, nor does a publicly disclosed takedown procedure exist.

Also Read: NA unanimously approves resolution for lifting YouTube ban

So who decides? Based on what criteria? Are the whims of the telecom minister, Anusha Rahman, all that stand between citizens and their constitutional right to free access of public information?

This is not just about the YouTube ban; from time to time other websites too have unobtrusively been made inaccessible from Pakistan, some to be reinstated, but uncounted others not.

Net freedoms are as important in our day and age as the right to protest in public places. It would be a travesty for our constitutional freedoms if these freedoms are bartered away with nothing but a sigh of resignation, and the activation of a proxy server.

Published in Dawn, September 15th , 2014

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Comments (11) Closed



Life Sep 15, 2014 09:01am

Youtube has a lot to offer other than dramas and talk shows. Its a wealth of information from personal life to professional life. Pakistanis don't know what they have lost.

Vap Sep 15, 2014 10:33am

Explain a lot about how much "supreme Parliament" cares about rights of their citizens.

Haider Sep 15, 2014 10:51am

So it proves we can live with the ban..

Nazir Ahmed Sep 15, 2014 11:21am

This inept government lacks decision power.

Niddercalling Sep 15, 2014 11:43am

You should name the reason of the ban. Pakistan wants all those outside of its jurisdiction to obey laws of blasphemy. Anybody dare show anything other than praise is doomed. I am for tolerance. I do not agree with many of their views, but fight for their right to air their opinions. Liberal societies worldwide do that.

Om Sep 15, 2014 12:39pm

Use Tor, that's what we do here.

Najam Sep 15, 2014 01:20pm

I agree 110% that Youtube should no longer be banned. Khan Academy content for students alone justifies revoking the ban. Our kids are being deprived of wealth of information. In recent past, I prepared lesson plans for my kids on excel and java programming using youtube. If my kids were able to access youtube, I wouldn't have to take extra time preparing these lessons and I would have used my time in some other useful endeavor.

Yes!! youtube also offers content that may be deemed inappropriate or insensitive but and in this day and age it is a upto individuals to decide what they want to see rather than government making decision for them.

Through Dawn newspaper, I request government officials to please rescinds ban on youtube.

Thank you, Dawn for the editorial!!

zafarov Sep 15, 2014 02:01pm

If something is found offensive, the simplest way to avoid being offended is don't search and view it.

Bakhtawer Bilal Sep 15, 2014 04:21pm

When the ban was instituted, it was assumed that the Youtube administration will come to its knee. Our pundits gave figures about the loss the Youtube would face. All it has happened is that "nothing of the sort has happened." And we have people who say, " So we can live without youtube." Of course you can. People do live squalid conditions, people live in jails, people live nice lives. We are entrenched in hyprocracy.

Nusrat Sep 15, 2014 04:42pm

Yet another mindless measure by the government that deprives people of a valuable learning asset.

Syed Kamal Sep 15, 2014 05:42pm

Knowledge is power, and your government is against giving it to you, particularly if you may find something about the government its secretive operations, its corruption and incompetence. As for the goverment you already know from experience what it is like. There are millions of useful and educational resources on the you tube that are off-limit to all of you peasents. We decide and you obey. There better not be any questions!