May 21, 2010

Pakistan puts blanket ban on YouTube

by David Masters

The Pakistani government has blocked access to YouTube because of the website’s “growing sacrilegious content”.

Pakistani officials said the number of videos on YouTube that are offensive to Muslims has increased in recent months.

The decision comes a day after the government blocked access to Facebook because a page on the social networking website invited users to draw a picture of the Prophet Muhammad.

Access to Wikipedia has also been restricted in the country.

The Pakistan Telecommunications Authority (PTA) said it attempted to adopt a case-by-case approach to blocking videos on YouTube before deciding to block the website completely.

“Before shutting down [YouTube], we did try just to block particular URLs or links, and access to 450 links on the internet were stopped,” said Khurram Ali Mehran, PTA spokesperson.

“But the blasphemous content kept appearing so we ordered a total shut down.”

YouTube and Facebook said the content Pakistani authorities find offensive does not violate their terms of use, and so will not be removed.

A YouTube spokesperson said: “Because YouTube is a platform for free expression of all sorts, we take great care when we enforce our policies. Content that violates our guidelines is removed as soon as we become aware of it.”

In a statement, Facebook said: “Facebook values free speech and enables people to express their feelings about a multitude of topics, even some that others may find distasteful or ignorant.”

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