Pakistan’s Standing Committee on Information Technology and Communications has recommended that the nation end its ban on YouTube.
Pakistan was unhappy with YouTube for years, on grounds that it made it possible to view content considered blasphemous. Once the controversial film “Innocence of Muslims” made it to Google’s streaming site in 2012, the nation blocked YouTube and plenty of other sites too.
The recommendation was made on Tuesday during a session headed by chairman standing committee, Senator Shahi Syed. The chairman standing committee disclosed during the briefing that Google had demanded money to remove the blasphemous content from Youtube. On Pakistan’s refusal they did not remove the controversial content. The IT officials told the committee that dialogue process was underway with Google for establishment of a local version of YouTube.
The officials added that Youtube was banned on the instructions of Supreme Court and that it cannot be unblocked without permission of the court. They also said there was no possible way to fully block the blasphemous content however the localization of Youtube will help in resolving the problem.
That ban has stood since 2012, largely thanks to the requirement that the nation’s Supreme Court waive the decision. Pakistani citizens protested the ban with a widely-signed petition that, after being ignored for a couple of years, appeared on the agenda of a Tuesday meeting of the Standing Committee. The apex court ruled at the time that the website company should be blocked until a way was discovered to block all blasphemous content.
Pakistani media reports suggest the outcome of that meeting was a recommendation that Pakistan lift the ban, as discussions between the nation and Google have reached the point at which search and advertising giant is willing to create a blasphemy-free version of YouTube just for Pakistani viewers.
One report, from Daily Pakistan, says the ban stood for so long because Google asked Pakistan to pay for a blasphemous material filtering service.
All reports agree that Google and Pakistan are talking with a view to getting YouTube switched back on on the nation. If that happens it will be another sign, if any are needed, of Google’s enthusiasm for a strong presence in developing nations. Last week the company dropped the floor price for apps in India to just US$0.15, down from $0.75. Google’s also pursuing Project Loon to bathe developing nations in broadband-from-balloons in order to hasten internet adoption in countries where even mobile networks aren’t widespread.