Supreme Court hints at banning YouTube
Hearing the bail application of an accused Shaukat Ali who is facing charges related to promoting sectarianism, the three-member bench headed by Justice Mushir Alam also issued notices to the Ministry of Foreign Affairs and the attorney general.
“We have no issue with freedom of expression,” Justice Qazi Amin remarked. “We get salaries through public money. The people have the right to discuss our performance and decisions.”
But he also noted that they had the right to enjoy a private life, asking both FIA and PTA whether they have noticed what is happening on YouTube.
The apex court judge noted that they were showing patience but the practice should come to an end.
As the PTA official told the court that they could only report, not remove, the individual content, Justice Mushir remarked that YouTube was banned in several countries.
He also dared to upload content against the US and the European Union on YouTube. Social media is controlled in several countries through domestic laws, noted Justice Mushir.
Moreover, Justice Qazi observed that the people were instigated against the army, judiciary and government.
Pakistan had already banned Youtube but it lifted the restriction on January 18, 2016, saying it had removed a three-year ban on YouTube after the Google-owned video-sharing website launched a local version that allowed the government to demand the removal of material it considered offensive.
Pakistan banned access to YouTube in September 2012 after an anti-Islam film was uploaded to the site, sparking violent protests across major cities in the Muslim-majority country.
Under the new version of YouTube, the Pakistan Telecommunication Authority (PTA) can ask for access to offending material to be blocked, the Ministry of Information Technology and Telecom said in a statement then.
“On the recommendation of PTA, the government of Pakistan has allowed access to the recently launched country version of YouTube for internet users in Pakistan,” the ministry said.
The government could ask Google to block access to offending material for users within Pakistan and the ministry said Google and YouTube would “accordingly restrict access” for Pakistani users.
Google, however, said that it would not automatically remove material without conducting a review, and that the vetting process was the same as in other jurisdictions with local YouTube versions. Government requests to remove content would be publicly reported, it added.
“We have clear community guidelines, and when videos violate those rules, we remove them,” it said in a statement at that time.
“Where we have launched YouTube locally and we are notified that a video is illegal in that country, we may restrict access to it after a thorough review.”