Government of Pakistan has lifted a three year ban on YouTube after the site introduced its local version for Pakistan early this year. The Pakistan Telecommunication Authority had approached the Supreme Court of Pakistan that YouTube was not in compliance with the requirements relating to blocking blasphemous content and PTA could block the blasphemous content after this introduction of local site by YouTube.
The ban was imposed by the Supreme Court in September 2012 after a video named “Innocence of Muslims” was uploaded to the video sharing site. The third rate film was enough to spark violent processions across Pakistan where religious sentiments run very high because of the influence that Mullahs have over general public.
Ministry of Information Technology announced that the ban on YouTube has been lifted after YouTube provided an online web process by which the offending material can be blocked by YouTube after request by Government of Pakistan.
Internet filtering has been on the rise in Pakistan and the country has blocked thousands of other secular, anti-government, or anti-military web pages and blogs too. Porn sites are also largely blocked and still continue to remain blocked across Pakistan.
The blocking of YouTube had little effect in real terms because people in Pakistan have got used to using proxies and VPNs which were easily bypassing these filters imposed by the Government. It remains unclear if the court has allowed the Government to remove the ban or the Government has removed the ban on YouTube on its own. Whatever is the case, Pakistan has welcomed the lifting of ban on Youtbe.