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Pakistani judge seeks larger bench to hear case on YouTube ban

Last Updated: Thursday, September 19, 2013 - 20:00

Lahore: A Pakistani judge on Thursday requested the Chief Justice of Lahore High Court to constitute a larger bench to hear a petition challenging the government`s ban on YouTube.

Justice Mansoor Ali Shah of the High Court referred the case to Chief Justice Umer Ata Bandial, describing it as "very important".

"In today’s digital age, information over the Internet cannot be blocked but can be intelligently regulated. There are no borders or walls that can limit this information from flowing into Pakistan unless of course the Internet is shut down completely and links with the outside world are severed," Shah observed.

A sustainable answer to the problem is self-regulation at the individual and house-hold level, he said.

"The World Wide Web has all sorts of information ranging from very useful to out right offensive. The choice is ours, we can either draw upon the useful information for our national development or fall prey to negative content and immerse ourselves in moral and cultural chaos," he observed.

Shah further said an individual has a choice whether to visit a controversial website, which could not be effectively blocked with technology available in Pakistan.

An NGO, Bytes for All, had filed a petition in the High Court for withdrawing the ban slapped by the previous government on YouTube a year ago after Google`s administration refused to remove clips from the blasphemous film "Innocence of Muslims".

The NGO argued that the ban amounted to an infringement on fundamental rights to reading and knowledge. It said a large number of people had been affected by the ban.

Minister of State for IT Anusha Rehman earlier said that over 2,700 objectionable websites had been blocked Pakistan since the ban on YouTube. She, however, expressed the government’s inability to block "Innocence of Muslims" from several websites.

"The task of filtering objectionable content is difficult. It involves manually blocking every website which cannot be undertaken," she had said.

The government is looking for software that can block such content automatically, she said. Since Google, the owner of YouTube, is not cooperating with Pakistan, no timeframe could be given for lifting the ban on YouTube, she added.


First Published: Thursday, September 19, 2013 - 20:00
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