Google’s YouTube has created a localized Pakistani site in the hope that it will see it’s 2012 ban lifted by the Supreme Court.
Why is YouTube Banned in Pakistan?
Go back to 2012 and you may remember the American-made film “Innocence of Muslims.” For many, the simple depiction of the Prophet Mohammed is enough for many to scream blasphemy. Charlie Hebdo’s simple depiction of Muhammed prompted an attack on the magazine’s offices that left 12 dead and led to another attack at a Kosher supermarket. However, “Innocence of Muslims” took it a step further, not just depicting the Prophet, the film portrayed him as a bully and a sexual deviant.
Many believe the film was largely responsible for the Benghazi consulate attack in Libya that left American’s dead and created a scandal that presidential hopeful Hillary Clinton will certainly have to deal with again and again as she seeks the democratic nomination for president.
But many forget that the film caused protests in Egypt, India and Bangladesh among others. Pakistan alone saw demonstrations that left over 20 people dead when things calmed down.
The Pakistan government repeatedly asked YouTube to remove the video, but were repeatedly rebuffed by the California company claiming that it would be a violation of free speech.
YouTube’s refusal led to a 2012 Supreme Court ban of the world’s largest video provider for “blasphemous content.”
What’s changed for YouTube in Pakistan?
There have recently been hearings and it’s believed that the Supreme Court is looking to lift the ban now that YouTube has a localized site that can remove content deemed pornographic or blasphemous.
In a sign that the court could reversed the ban Justice Ejaz said: “Our concern is what is shown on YouTube and its effects on the minds of young generation. Though it is being used for education purposes, it has negative impact also.” “We have to find solution to this problem.” The judge said: “The information on Internet has to be qualified. It cannot be extended to include any nasty and nefarious material, which has potential to corrupt the minds of youth. There is a need to educate our youth. This has to be thought holistically so that the negative part of information could not spoil our young generation.
The new and localized site (youtube.com.pk) is presently live in Pakistan but still unavailable in the face of the existing ban. But it’s believe an agreement has been reached that would allow Pakistan’s telecommunication authority to directly contact Google to have content removed.
“The understanding is that on the localized version offensive and blasphemous content could be blocked by Google on the government’s request,” a senior government recently said to the NYT’s.
“We have clear community guidelines, and when videos violate those rules, we remove them,” a YouTube spokesman said.
Pakistan has a lot of people and YouTube wants to reach them it will be interesting to see what happens next.