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Pakistan in YouTube unblock rumours

Google site gets back on the web

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Pakistani authorities could finally be ready to unblock YouTube after a year-long ban in the country following the appearance of a provocative anti-Muslim video on the site.

Sources there told TechInAsia that the Google site had become available to some web users again, although it wasn’t working across the board.

YouTube was blocked by the Pakistan government, as it was in nations across the Muslim world last year, after Google refused to self censor by taking down a 13-minute trailer for the controversial movie Innocence of Muslims.

The Chocolate Factory maintained that the film did not contravene its own rules on hate speech, although the governments of Afghanistan, Bangladesh, Saudi Arabia and elsewhere disagreed.

Unlike China's YouTube ban, Pakistan's always seemed more likely to be relaxed eventually once the government perfected the internet filtering technology necessary to selectively block some content deemed offensive on moral or religious grounds.

In fact, an Express Tribune report early last month claimed the authorities were already testing technology to block over 4,000 URLs, but that it was experiencing some delays.

Pakistan is certainly not shy when it comes to protecting its citizens from content deemed inappropriate. It blocked a whopping 20,000 sites in a nationwide crackdown on unsuitable content last year in the wake of the YouTube incident.

There were also worrying signs that the government was planning a much more comprehensive web filtering system along the lines of China’s Great Firewall after it released a request for proposals for the scheme last year.

As a result of this activity and more, not-for-profit Freedom House said the country registered among the steepest declines in online freedom in the world. ®

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