YouTube, briefly restored, blocked again in Pakistan

Pakistan prime minister orders continued ban on Google-owned video-sharing service on Saturday

Pakistan reinstated its YouTube ban on Saturday after it was briefly lifted, reportedly without approval from the country's prime minister, local media reported.

The country's federal interior minister, Rehman Malik, wrote on Twitter on Friday that the three-month ban on Google's video-sharing service would be lifted after great demand from "all sections of society." YouTube was then restored on Saturday for around three hours, according to The Express Tribune.

But the ban was restored by the Pakistan Telecommunications Authority (PTA) on orders from Prime Minister Raja Pervez Ashraf, the publication reported.

Ashraf ordered YouTube to be blocked on Sept. 17 after Google refused to remove a controversial movie trailer mocking the Prophet Muhammad, which sparked violent protests in several countries around U.S. consulates and embassies, including Pakistan.

Google restricted viewing of the 14-minute trailer in India, Libya and Egypt and Indonesia, but left it online in most countries. The company contends the video does not violate its guidelines.

The PTA's technical inability to block just the video in question led to the entire YouTube ban being reinstated, The Express Tribune reported.

Malik later wrote on Friday on Twitter that the PTA was finalizing negotiations to acquire "powerful firewall software" that can block pornographic and blasphemous material, hinting at the possibility of a more granular response to content deemed offensive in the country.

Send news tips and comments to jeremy_kirk@idg.com. Follow me on Twitter: @jeremy_kirk

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