Google to appear before Lahore High Court in the YouTube case

You may remember that nearly 8 months ago popular video sharing website YouTube was banned in Pakistan, over publishing a blasphemous anti-Islam movie. The movie named “Innocence of Muslims” sparked anger and violent protests across the globe. Google was quick to ban the movie in certain countries, but in Pakistan Google has no legal status, so it denied to comply with the orders and didn’t remove/block the blasphemous movie for Pakistani users.

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An organization Bytes For All has filed a petition against Federation of Pakistan to unblock the video sharing website in the Lahore High Court. Yesterday LHC has directed the Ministry of Information Technology to obtain a response from Google in the YouTube case, but no Google representative had accepted to appear before the court nor were they summoned yet.

The petitioner said that only way to resolve this case is to allow Google to incorporate in Pakistan, but due to the fact Pakistan laws didn’t provide Intermediary Liability Protection, Google is not willing to move forward.  LHC stated that court will guarantee intermediary liability protection for Google while legislators get around to legislating. In this regard a notice has been sent to Google Singapore office.

Yesterday the YouTube ban has also been challenged in the Peshawar High Court (PHC). The petitioner requested the PHC to direct the Pakistan Telecommunication Authority and ministry of interior to open the website for the benefit of public at large.

In the last 8 months PTA has failed to devise a mechanism to block the blasphemous content and open the website as they promised. Meanwhile Government has temporary lifted the ban but quickly banned it again without giving any reason.

Majority of Internet users in Pakistan are against this prolonged ban and consider it as a political move. PTA could have easily blocked the blasphemous material and unblock the website. Government of Pakistan should allow Google to incorporate in Pakistan and rules should devised, so no one can use Internet censorship for their personal gains and in the future we can deal situations like these in a better way.

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