A request to temporarily remove the ban on the website YouTube in Pakistan has been denied by the Lahore High Court.
Ministry of Information Technology was ordered by the court to tell till 25th of July 2013 how the access to specific URLs could be blocked having content that was blasphemous in nature.
YouTube is a video sharing website owned by Google and it was blocked in Pakistan on 17th of September 2012 as protests breakout due to the upload of 14 minutes trailer of a movie named “Innocence of Muslims”.
YouTube denied either removing the movie or denying access of this movie to viewers of YouTube in Pakistan as requested by then Prime Minister Raja Pervez Ashraf on behalf of Pakistani Government.
The petition was filed by an NGO named “Bytes For All” back in January 2013 and the purpose of filing the petition was to lift the ban from YouTube in Pakistan.
Petitioner’s counsel informed the court that rather than blocking access to all the content of YouTube, only objectionable material should be blocked.
Representative of the information ministry informed the court that the issue is quite sensitive in nature and it could result in protests and unrest in the whole country. Deputy Attorney General informed the court that Federal Government was ready to re-open YouTube but due to the presence of blasphemous material and Google’s denial of cooperation, the Federal Government decided to let the ban continue.
Pakistan Telecommunication Authority (PTA) informed the court via their representative that they will be able to develop a system that will help them achieve the censorship ability like China, Saudi Arabia, UAE and Iran and controversial content can be censored.
After the whole proceeding, Justice Mansoor Ali Shah remarked on this case that Ministry should form a committee and public suggestions should be consulted on this issue to make sure that only specific material can be blocked. He further said that he is not an expert and could not advise further on this matter.