Pakistan to unblock YouTube after building content filter

Country's prime minister said YouTube will be back online after the completion of a filter mechanism, adding the presence of blasphemous content is the only reason why the site is blocked.
Written by Jamie Yap, Contributor

Pakistan prime minister Raja Pervez Ashraf said the government will lift the ban and reopen video site YouTube after work on a filter mechanism is complete.

"We believe in access to free information. The only reason not to unblock YouTube is the presence of blasphemous material on it. We will open it as soon as we have a filtration mechanism," the Prime Minister said while addressing SAFMA (South Asia Free Media Association) members, Pakistan daily Dawn reported Wednesday.

Google-owned YouTube was blocked by the Pakistan government on Sep. 17 last year, after mass riots erupted in the country due to an anti-Islam film clip called "Innocence of Muslims" being uploaded onto the site.

The ban was lifted very briefly on Dec. 29 when the Pakistan Telecommunication Authority (PTA) told Internet service providers (ISPs) and mobile phone companies to unblock YouTube, but after 3 minutes the ban was reinstated because the video was still on YouTube, The New York Times reported.

This is not the first time Pakistan has imposed a ban on YouTube and subsequently lifted it. In February 2008, the government said YouTube contained blasphemous content offensive to Islam, and told local ISPs to turn the site off, but removed the block shortly afterward.

Content filtering is also not new in the country. In November 2011, local mobile operators were told to block text messages in their networks that had words deemed obscene by PTA.

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