Pakistan’s YouTube Ban Is Lifted And Then Reinstated As Observers Worry About Internet Freedom

Pakistan lifted, then very quickly reinstated its ban on YouTube after a few hours when efforts by the government to filter out blasphemous material proved unsuccessful. Prime Minister Raja Pervez Ashraf had ordered the video sharing site blocked in September after YouTube refused to remove the low-budget anti-Islamic film “Innocence of Muslims.” Access was restored for a few hours on Saturday, but Ashraf issued orders to reinstate the ban after seeing that blasphemous content was still accessible.

On his Twitter, Pakistan’s interior minister Rehman Malik said the government had unblocked YouTube due to great demand and because it believed that it could filter out offense material:

Some Pakistani observers accused television channel Geo News of triggering the ban’s reinstatement after reporting that the “Innocence of Muslims” film could still be viewed on YouTube. Though the temporary lifting of the ban was cause for a few hours of rejoicing among many Internet users, Pakistani newspaper the Express Tribune noted “the news of the video sharing site being unblocked comes with an ominous cloud over it” as that country’s government moves toward building an Internet firewall.