YouTube to be unblocked within 48 hours in Pakistan: PTA

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ISLAMABAD: The Ministry of Information Technology on Monday issued a directive to the Pakistan Telecommunication Authority (PTA) to restore YouTube service within 48 hours.

The Ministry of Information Technology Spokesman Sagheer Anwar Wattoo and PTA officials confirmed that the directive has been issued.

The service is still not accessible on some internet service providers without the use of a secure (https) protocol or VPN/proxy, which means the website remains blocked for the time being.

PTA officials said all arrangements for unblocking YouTube are complete and all standard operating procedures have been checked. The officials claimed all blasphemous content had been blocked on the localised version of YouTube.

The IT ministry, PTA, Ministry of Religious Affairs and other agencies who were part of a committee formed to tackle the issue were informed that the content has been removed along with Google’s cooperation.

PTA Spokesman Khurram Mehran earlier confirmed the Google had launched a localised version of YouTube in Pakistan which did not feature any of the controversial content.

In reply to a Supreme Court petition on the YouTube ban, PTA said that Google and PTA had both verified that this version of the website does not contain any known copies of the offending material.

If any copy appears on the website in the future, Google has “provided an online web process through which requests for blocking access [to] the offending material can be made by PTA to Google directly and Google/YouTube will accordingly restrict access to the said offending material for users within Pakistan”, the PTA said.

The PTA acknowledged that Google has made it possible for the Pakistani government to ask for the removal of objectionable videos from YouTube.

YouTube was initially blocked in Pakistan on September 18, 2012, after violent protests broke out all over the country in reaction to a blasphemous film uploaded on the website’s servers that outraged Muslims all across the world.

The ban was lifted in early 2013, but only lasted for a few hours after which the website was again officially inaccessible to Pakistani users.

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