Authorities fall back on old YouTube advice

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ISLAMABAD: While experts are unable to find any way to block unwanted material on social networking website, YouTube, the Ministry of Information and Technology is working on ‘Prevention of Electronic Crimes Bill’ which it considers can pave the way for a localised version of youtube.

The bill might take one or two more months to be presented in Parliament and then passed and implemented. But that is a basic requirement to convince any international website to launch a localised version in the country.

The ministry only reached this point after it realised filtration of sacrilegious content is a very expensive and difficult process.

Although during the previous days the ministry claimed having found some way to block blasphemous content on YouTube, it may be able to open the website when it would be fully confident about the achievement.

But it does not seem possible at this point in time, so the ministry is considering certain other options. Without assuring that blasphemous content could not be seen on the social-networking, re-opening it would not be possible for the government, as it might incite protests and riots across the country.

On the other hand, for a localised version of YouTube, it is a pre-requisite that legislation is done to provide shelter to the website from bad or unwanted posts.

As per the proposed law, the website cannot be sued in case something immoral and illegal is shared on it. But in response the website will be bound to remove that material or content from its localised domain. However this bar will not be applicable to its international website.

As per an official of the ministry, the developers of YouTube were contacted and asked to remove sacrilegious material. It has been two months. They are taking the plea that content blocking would be against its policy. They float the idea about a localised version of YouTube though.

At present many countries have their local versions of YouTube. These include India, Turkey, Malaysia, Algeria, Jordon, Morocco, Tunisia and Yemen. YouTube has also proposed localised versions for Saudi Arabia and some other countries.

For Saudi Arabia blasphemous content has been blocked without blocking the website. Pakistan does not have enough resources to get a similar thing done.

For India blasphemous content was blocked by YouTube on local version. China does not have a localised version but a very powerful filter to block unwanted content.

The Nation

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