Pakistan’s new IT and telecommunications minister has a problem. She wants to end to longstanding ban on Google’s YouTube, but she also needs assurances that Google will work to block “blasphemous and objectionable” materials from the world’s most popular video sharing site.
And in order to ensure that happens, the new minister is making a sort of blanket threat against Google – clean it up here in Pakistan or face an all-out ban.
According to The Times of India, Anusha Rahman Khan sees the total Google block as a last resort.
“It all depends on our negotiation clout. If they persist with their stance, we can block Google in Pakistan as a last resort as there are many alternative search engines available on the web,” said Khan.
Khan made it clear that she wishes to get started in unblocking YouTube – but certain assurances from Google need to be in place.
“Our ministry is responsible for policy decisions, so it’s our job to ensure reopening of YouTube as soon as possible with thorough screening of objectionable material. I will immediately start work on it after a presentation by ministry officials on Monday…We will pump in extra money if needed and do whatever is in our capacity to bring YouTube back to Pakistan without compromising our ethical values,” Khan told Dawn.
The Pakistani government has had a rocky relationship with YouTube over the past few years. The site was first banned back in 2008 after the Pakistan Telecommunication Authority cited a rise in “non-Islamic, objectionable videos.” Shortly after, the ban was lifted when much of the material was removed from YouTube servers.
The site stayed open and accessible in the country until 2010, when Pakistan again blocked YouTube in response to “Everybody Draw Mohammed Day.” About a week later, the site was reinstated.
The latest ban has been the most longstanding. Pakistan blocked YouTube back in September of 2012 in response to the controversial YouTube video “Innocence of Muslims,” which depicts the religion’s prophet as a fool and a child-molesting deviant. Google decided not to remove the video from YouTube.
Of course, YouTube isn’t the only site that the Pakistani government has been known to censor. They’ve blocked Twitter in the past, and a few years ago made a sweeping ban on many porn sites.
Khan seems to want to make sure she can assure Google’s compliance before making any sort of decision.
“We cannot face the embarrassment of opening the website and closing it again after protests. We have to ensure that proper filtration system is in place before we open the website,” said Khan.[via CNET]