Pakistan unblocks YouTube

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After over three, Pakistan Telecommunication Authority (PTA) unblocked the popular video-sharing website, YouTube, for the Internet users in Pakistan.

However, digital rights groups and other stakeholders, who had originally opposed the blocking of the website, still have concerns over the deal – struck between the government and Google – which may empower the former to censor content on the website.

YouTube was blocked in September 2012, after a blasphemous film, ‘Innocence of Muslims’, triggered global protests, reports the Dawn.

The government of Pakistan initially tried to restrict access to the clip inside Pakistan, but ended up having to block the entire website because Google refused to restrict access to the video on the website itself.

A PTA official said, “We have directed all ISPs to unblock the website as Google informed us on January 12 that a country version of YouTube has been launched for Pakistan.”

“Google has been using country versions for different countries such as Saudi Arabia,” he added.

“Google has also informed us that objectionable content will be restricted in Pakistan. It has assured that, in the future, content can be restricted at the request of the government of Pakistan,” he said.

Internet Service Providers Association of Pakistan (ISPAK) Convener Wahajus Siraj told Dawn, “It doesn’t make a difference whether one types in youtube.com.pk or simply youtube.com.”

“It seems that the website is filtering IP addresses and it gives Internet users in Pakistan the ‘PK’ version irrespective. This is a positive development”.

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