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Pakistan Unblocks YouTube For Three Minutes

| 2 Jan 2013 18:05
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A government plan to keep blasphemous material away from Pakistani internet users didn't work out quite as planned.

The government of Pakistan imposed a nation-wide ban on YouTube in September of last year in response to the presence of "blasphemous" material on the site, in particular a trailer for Innocence of Muslims, a rabidly anti-Islamic video that caused a violent, worldwide uproar when it floated to the surface last summer. The Pakistani Prime Minister ordered the Ministry of Information to block the service in order to prevent viewing of the video after YouTube declined a White House call to remove it.

But not everyone was happy with the ban. The English-language Express Tribune called it "a naked power play" and said, "We need to make it clear that we do not wish to regress to a dark age when a centralized authority controlled all access to information." A growing number of complaints prompted Interior Minister Rehman Malik to announce on Friday that the ban would be lifted, and that internet users in Pakistan would be protected from blasphemous and pornographic content by government-installed firewalls.

Unfortunately, shortly after the ban was lifted, the "immensely influential" television news network Geo reported that anti-Islamic material was still accessible. An outcry led by Ansar Abbasi, "a right-leaning journalist" who, according to his Pakistani Leaders Online profile believes that Iranian President Mahmoud Ahmedinejad is "the only Muslim Leader who takes real pride in being a follower of the greatest religion," caused Prime Minister Raja Pervez Ashraf to reimpose the ban just a few hours after the Pakistan Telecommunications Authority ordered local ISPs to make it available. According to the New York Times, YouTube was accessible to the people of Pakistan for three minutes.

Malik hasn't yet commented on the turnaround but two Geo reporters criticized the move on Twitter: One said the Interior Minister and Prime Minister were like two kids playing with a light switch while another posited that the government wanted to maintain the ban and used the report as an excuse to do so.

Source: New York Times

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