Govt plans to restart YouTube

Published February 27, 2013

ISLAMABAD, Feb 26: Standing Committee on Information Technology on Tuesday decided to form a three member committee to negotiate with the management of YouTube, in order to restore the website, after addressing the concerns of the nation.

Senator Mohammad Idrees Khan Safi chaired the meeting of the committee, which was held at the Parliament Lodges.

Director-General (DG) Pakistan Telecommunication Authority (PTA) Waseem Tauqeer informed the participants that on September 18, 2012, government of Pakistan decided to block YouTube because of the blasphemous movie that hurt the sentiments of the Muslims.

Although the DG admitted that there were only 747 uniform sources locator (URL), regarding the movie and the site got 95,000 hits.

However, the DG claimed that PTA had no choice but to block the site through Internet Protocol (IP) address.

Although DG PTA further said that the management of YouTube and Facebook were contacted through the ministry of foreign affairs and requested to remove objectionable material but YouTube refused. However, management of Facebook removed all relevant material, he added.

While replying to questions of parliamentarians, DG PTA said that it was correct that in Saudi Arabia, India, Russia, Brazil, Singapore and other countries, blasphemous material was removed without blocking YouTube but it became possible because of a Mutual Legal Assistance Treaty ( MLAT), which Pakistan does not have with USA.

Therefore, YouTube which has been following the policy of USA in Pakistan has refused to remove the material, he said.

Member of the standing committee Osman Saifullah Khan said that the objective of the meeting was to resolve the issue without blocking YouTube because the website was also used for research, entertainment and other purposes.

“I heard that Google wants to introduce a local domain but some departments are not allowing it. Interior ministry has been blocking and unblocking the site due to which fingers are being raised at the ministry of information technology. All stakeholders should be consulted in decisions like blocking YouTube,” said Mr Khan.

“I also came to know that Google representatives are not coming to Pakistan. Google was supposed to open its offices in Pakistan and Vietnam in 2012 but it only opened office in Vietnam,” said member standing committee.

At the meeting, it was decided to form a three member sub committee headed by Osman Saifullah Khan to look into the issue of getting YouTube restarted.

The committee would also invite representatives of YouTube to come to Pakistan, for negotiations, as decided in the meeting.

Blocking objectionable material on the internet would be another task of the committee.

Restoration of CEO USF

Report of sub committee of standing committee headed by Malik Mohammad Rafique Rajwana regarding dismissal of chief executive officer Universal Service Fund (USF) Riaz Asher Siddiqui was also presented in the meeting.

Following the recommendation of the sub committee, members instructed restoration of Riaz Asher Siddiqui within two weeks and instructed to submit compliance report in the standing committee secretariat.

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