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Ban on YouTube to Stay: LHC

Lahore High Court has turned down a request to temporarily open YouTube in Pakistan.

While hearing a petition filed for re-opening of YouTube, the court asked the Ministry of Information Technology to tell on July 25 to how to block access to specific URLs, which are blasphemous in nature.

The video-sharing website has been blocked in Pakistan since September 17th 2012 following protests about a 14-minute trailer of the film Innocence of Muslims.

Then prime minister Raja Pervez Ashraf had ordered the ban after YouTube denied to block the access of movie to Pakistani audience at the Pakistani government’s request.

Bytes For All, an NGO, moved the court in January seeking lifting of the ban.

During yesterday’s hearing, the petitioner’s counsel told the court that instead of blocking access to the entire website, only the objectionable material could be blocked.

A representatives of the information ministry informed that it was a sensitive issue and the website cannot be reopened which could cause unrest in the whole country. A deputy attorney general had also informed that the federal government was willing to lift the ban but blasphemous material was still available on the website. He said that the government had decided to continue the ban after Google administration refused to remove the blasphemous material.

A representative of Pakistan Telecommunication Authority (PTA) informed that the authority would be able within the next four months to censor controversial and undesired stuff from websites as China, Iran, Saudi Arabia and U.A.E were doing.

Justice Mansoor Ali Shah remarked that he was not an expert on the matter and asked the Ministry to form a committee and invite suggestions from the public on how to block access to specific material.

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