When YouTube refused to take down a controversial video called "Innocence of Muslims" this summer, a small number of violent protests were sparked. Pakistani officials reacted by imposing a country-wide block of YouTube. According to the New York Times, YouTube was made available for only three minutes before Pakistani officials pulled the plug once more. According to other, unverified accounts, YouTube access may have lasted up to 90 minutes -- something which may be confirmed by Google's Transparency Report.
In addition to interior minster Rehman Malik indicating that the YouTube ban would be rescinded, Malik tweeted about a new effort to crack down on pornographic and blasphemous material. "PTA is finalizing negotations [sic] for acquiring a powerful firewall software to totally block pornographic and blasphemous material." he wrote on Dec 28. PTA is the Pakistani Telecommunications Authority.
Following Malik's hints that the ban would be repealed before New Year's day, access to YouTube flickered on for the first time in months -- even if only for a brief period of time. Shortly afterward though, Prime Minister Raja Pervez Ashraf reinstated the block, reportedly yielding to public pressure.
According to the NY Times, some prominent Pakistanis voiced concerns that blasphemous material still made available on YouTube, a discovery that should seem unsurprising to veteran YouTubers. Presumably though, officials may have expected their new "powerful" anti-porn and anti-blasphemy filters to block access to disagreeable areas of YouTube -- a feat which these technologies apparently failed to deliver.
It's unknown when or even if the ban will be lifted once again, but until then, Internet users in Pakistan will have to endure alternate methods of accessing YouTube such as VPN services or TOR.
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