YouTube launches Pakistani version, paving way for lifting ban

January 13, 2016
YouTube was blocked in Pakistan after "Innocence of Muslims" was uploaded, an American-made film that depicted the Pro
YouTube was blocked in Pakistan after "Innocence of Muslims" was uploaded, an American-made film that depicted the Prophet Mohammed as a thuggish deviant and  triggered protests across the Muslim world

Google has launched a localised version of YouTube in Pakistan, potentially paving the way for the country's top court to lift a ban on the site over "blasphemous content".

The site was blocked after "Innocence of Muslims" was uploaded, an American-made film that depicted the Prophet Mohammed as a thuggish deviant and triggered protests across the Muslim world—including in Pakistan, where more than 20 people died in demonstrations.

Google said Tuesday users in Nepal, Pakistan and Sri Lanka would see a new YouTube homepage featuring local content in native languages.

YouTube, owned by California-based Google, has already launched similar initiatives in dozens of other countries.

The Supreme Court's ban in place since September 2012 applied to YouTube's global and localised sites.

The new site, youtube.com.pk, is currently live but inaccessible inside Pakistan, and the government and Google hope its creation will mean the Supreme Court will lift the ban, even if only partially.

Content on the local site can still be regulated, and a senior government official told AFP Wednesday Pakistan's telecommunication authority could ask Google to remove content it deems objectionable.

If Google complies, it could meet a condition set by the Supreme Court for lifting the ban.

"The understanding is that on the localised version offensive and blasphemous content could be blocked by Google on the government's request," the official said.

A Google spokesman confirmed that governments are allowed to request the removal of YouTube videos that violate local laws.

"We have clear community guidelines, and when videos violate those rules, we remove them," the spokesman said.

But the Internet giant said it would review requests before taking videos down.

"Government requests to remove content will continue to be tracked and included in our Transparency Report."

Islamabad has been in intermittent talks with Google for several years over the issue, another source close to the matter said, without providing a specific timeframe for the unveiling of YouTube Pakistan.

"We are in a very near-term sort of thing. The roadblocks have been removed," the source said.

A Supreme Court official meanwhile said the next court hearing about the is in two weeks.

Users in Pakistan continue to access YouTube using proxy servers and Virtual Private Networks.

Blasphemy is a contentious issue in Pakistan and the country has seen violent riots sparked by considered offensive to Islam.

In 2010 Pakistan shut down Facebook for nearly two weeks over its hosting of allegedly blasphemous pages. It continues to restrict thousands of online links.

Explore further: Pakistan's parliament votes to lift YouTube ban

Related Stories

Pakistan's parliament votes to lift YouTube ban

May 6, 2014

Pakistan's parliament on Tuesday voted unanimously to lift a ban on YouTube, in a non-binding resolution that was nonetheless welcomed by free speech campaigners as an important symbolic move.

Pakistan scans Google, other sites for blasphemy

June 25, 2010

(AP) -- Pakistan will monitor seven major websites, including Google and Yahoo, to block anti-Islamic links and content, an official said Friday. Seventeen lesser-known sites are being blocked outright for alleged blasphemous ...

Pakistan lifts Facebook ban after page removed

May 31, 2010

(AP) -- Pakistan lifted a ban on Facebook on Monday after officials from the social networking site apologized for a page deemed offensive to Muslims and removed its contents, a top information technology official said.

Pakistan expected to unblock YouTube

December 29, 2012

Pakistan is expected to unblock access to the popular video sharing website YouTube on Saturday after taking measures to filter blasphemous material and pornography, a cabinet minister said.

Pakistan's 'cyberwar' for control of the web

September 12, 2013

In a dingy Internet cafe, Abdullah gets round the censors with one click and logs onto YouTube, officially banned for a year and at the heart of Pakistan's cyberwar for control of the web.

Recommended for you

Samsung to disable Note 7 phones in recall effort

December 9, 2016

Samsung announced Friday it would disable its Galaxy Note 7 smartphones in the US market to force remaining owners to stop using the devices, which were recalled for safety reasons.

Swiss unveil stratospheric solar plane

December 7, 2016

Just months after two Swiss pilots completed a historic round-the-world trip in a Sun-powered plane, another Swiss adventurer on Wednesday unveiled a solar plane aimed at reaching the stratosphere.

Solar panels repay their energy 'debt': study

December 6, 2016

The climate-friendly electricity generated by solar panels in the past 40 years has all but cancelled out the polluting energy used to produce them, a study said Tuesday.

0 comments

Please sign in to add a comment. Registration is free, and takes less than a minute. Read more

Click here to reset your password.
Sign in to get notified via email when new comments are made.