Pakistan Lifts Its Three-Year Ban On YouTube

YouTube has become available in Pakistan today, ending a three-year-ban on the Google-owned video site.

The Pakistani government blocked YouTube back in 2013 in response to Innocence of Muslims, a controversial video on the site that gained a global audience and was widely condemned by Muslim communities for its depiction of the Prophet Muhammad. A U.S. court ordered Google to remove the film, but it had refused to cave in to multiple removal requests in Pakistan, where the film incited deadly protests and — ultimately — a full block on YouTube.

During the ban, the government had discussed ways to bring YouTube with a content filtering model to would enable authorities to independently block content deemed suitable, but such a setup would run contrary to how YouTube manages the service. Indeed, a YouTube rep confirmed to TechCrunch that there is no special arrangement in place in Pakistan. That means that content will only be removed if Google agrees to do so, while all government requests will be logged in Google’s biannual transparency report, the company said.

Essentially, YouTube confirmed, it has launched a local version of its site in Pakistan as it has done in other markets worldwide. That means local language support and a country-specific homepage with content that is tailored to Pakistan-based audiences.

“We’re glad that YouTube is now accessible in Pakistan so viewers can watch and share videos, as well as take advantage of the vibrant and growing global online video community,” a YouTube spokesperson said in a statement.

YouTube isn’t the only tech company on the receiving end of censorship demands in Pakistan. BlackBerry was all set to exit the country last year in response to demands to monitor its data, but it cancelled the withdrawal after those demands were dropped.