Sunday, February 24, 2008

Pakistan blocks YouTube for 'blasphemous' web content

Pakistan has blocked access to the popular video-sharing website Youtube for alleged "blasphemous" content.

The Pakistan Telecommunications Authority (PTA) has directed all the Internet service providers of the country to block access to Youtube, media reported here. The order, issued by the director of the enforcement agency, claimed the ratio of "non-Islamic objectionable video" has increased on the website.

"The site would remain blocked till further orders from the PTA," a local ISP worker told the Daily Times.

Some ISPs have also asked the users to write to the administrators to "remove the objectionable web content/movies because this removal would enable the authorities to order un-blocking of this website."

Local media cited different reasons for the government move, some referring to a trailer from Dutch politician Geert Wilders' controversial anti-Islam movie that is available on the site. There were also reports that the website contained a controversial cartoon of the Prophet Mohammed reprinted by 17 Danish newspapers earlier this month.

The ban also sparked speculation on mailing lists and blogs, and people wondered whether the blackout was connected to some other videos that had been uploaded to the site, implicating a certain political party in "election rigging".

International media rights watchdog Reporters Without Borders condemned the decision, saying it regards the measure as "disproportionate".

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