Google to be banned in Pakistan if it doesn't clean up YouTube

The country's new IT minister reportedly says the Web giant must remove "blasphemous and objectionable material" from its video sharing site, or face serious consequences.

YouTube has been blocked by Pakistan for nine months. CBS

With YouTube already shuttered in Pakistan, Google is now reportedly facing an all-out ban in that country, according to The Times of India.

The country's new IT and telecommunication minister, Anusha Rahman Khan, announced that unless Google removes "blasphemous and objectionable material" from YouTube, the country will block access to all Google sites.

"It all depends on our negotiation clout," Khan said, according to The Times of India. "If they persist with their stance, we can block Google in Pakistan as a last resort as there are many alternative search engines available on the Web."

YouTube was originally blocked in Pakistan on September 17 after the Middle East erupted in protests in reaction to "Innocence of Muslims," a video on YouTube that depicts the prophet Muhammad as a buffoon.

However, this wasn't the first time that Pakistan has blocked YouTube. The country previously sought to block access to YouTube videos in 2008 after a video criticizing Islam was posted.

Pakistan has also banned other tech sites. In May 2012, the Pakistani government blocked access to Twitter over potential "blasphemous" caricatures of the prophet Muhammad. Two years earlier, the government temporarily pulled the plug on Facebook after a page popped up called "Post Drawings of the Prophet Mohammed Day."

Khan said that she will end the 9-month-long YouTube ban if the video sharing site adds filters to its service in Pakistan.

"Our ministry is responsible for policy decisions, so it's our job to ensure reopening of YouTube as soon as possible with thorough screening of objectionable material," Khan said, according to news agency Dawn. "We will pump in extra money if needed and do whatever is in our capacity to bring YouTube back to Pakistan without compromising our ethical values."

However, Google does not have a filtered version of YouTube for Pakistan, as it does for many other countries, according to Pakistan's Daily Times.

"We offer a localized version of YouTube in 49 countries around the world. In each localized country, we offer local content that is more relevant to users in that country and we also abide by that country's laws," Google Malaysia communications and public affairs head Zeffri Yusof told the Daily Times. "When we are notified that a video is illegal, we will restrict access to it in that country after a thorough review."

According to the Daily Times, the main reason Pakistan doesn't yet have a localized version of YouTube is because it takes time to research local laws and reach out to local content creators.

CNET contacted YouTube for comment. We'll update the story when we get more information.

 

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