Citing objectionable content, Pakistani authorities have blocked user access to about 20,000 websites, including YouTube. The objectionable content hosted on the blocked websites includes footage from the anti-Islam movie 'Innocence of Muslims'. 

In his statement to PTI, an official of the Pakistan Telecommunication Authority stated that user access was blocked to about 20,000 websites following a court order. A sessions court in Lahore, reportedly ordered the registration of a case against the PTA Chairman for the organisation’s failure to block footage from the anti-Islam film on the Internet. “The PTA has not only blocked websites featuring the anti-Islam film but thousands of others with objectionable material,” added the official further.

Keeping the Internet free of hateful content (Image credit: Getty Images

Websites blocked over hateful content (Image credit: Getty Images)

The official added that it is unlikely that the ban on YouTube will be lifted anytime soon. “The ban on YouTube will continue as long as it does not remove the blasphemous film. Pakistan can take no chances on lifting the ban as people are not ready to accept this film,” he added.  He went on to assert that if YouTube continues to carry the objectionable video, the ban will continue for “an indefinite period”.

In the past week, Internet service providers (ISPs) had blocked Facebook and YouTube in Kashmir, following a directive by the government to restrict access to the websites. This move was made in light of the protests and outrage against the anti-Islam video on YouTube. A report by Greater Kashmir states that mobile telecom companies have also blocked GPRS services on mobile phones. As per the report, mobile Internet access has been barred by several cellular service providers, including Vodafone, BSNL, Reliance, Aircel, and Airtel.

The order was issued late last month by the state Home Department, invoking the powers conferred under section 5(2) of the Indian Telegraph Act 1885. “In the interest of public safety and for maintaining public order, the government directed all licensed Telecom Service Providers and Internet Service Providers to make arrangements to ensure that their subscribers in Jammu and Kashmir should not be able to download or upload the contents” with regard to the video, the order stated.

Recently, Iran lifted the block it had put on Gmail on September 24. However, the country aims to set up additional, stricter blocks for YouTube. The secure version of Google search which runs on the HTTPS protocol has also been unblocked. As per the report, Abdolsamad Khoramabadi, the secretary of an official group tasked with detecting Internet content deemed illegal, said in a message last week that “Google and Gmail will be filtered nationwide… until further notice.”

Iran’s efforts to censor YouTube completely have been accelerated following the furore caused by the anti-Islam film that has been doing the rounds on the Internet. Even the Indian government has directed Google to block access to the video, and according to reports coming in today, it seems the government has directed ISPs to block both Facebook and YouTube in Kashmir.

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