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[liberationtech] Google is sticking to its own vision of freedom of expression - The NEWS Pakistan

Michael michael at accessnow.org
Sun Dec 9 00:43:03 PST 2012


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Is the pending "Multi-Lateral Assistance Treaty (MLAT) between Google
and Pakistan" cited a reference to something real? I'm not sure what
the intended meaning is (besides something that's not an MLAT).

Michael

On 12/09/2012 12:01 AM, Fouad Bajwa wrote:
> According to Pakistan's largest English Daily, the News
> International:
> 
> Permanent Link to the Story: 
> http://jang.com.pk/thenews/Dec2012-weekly/nos-09-12-2012/dia.htm#1 
> Only valid for today's e-print:
> http://e.thenews.com.pk/12-9-2012/nos_page9.asp
> 
> Virtually blocked - With no breakthrough on YouTube registration
> in Pakistan in sight, the authorities affirm the ban will stay By
> Shahzada Irfan Ahmed After a prolonged spell of suppressed
> activity, social media websites in Pakistan suddenly became alive
> on Dec 3, with endless posts and tweets about the reopening of
> YouTube in the country. To many, this was nothing unexpected as the
> development had coincided with the tentative deadline given by
> Pakistan Telecommunication Authority (PTA) Chairman for the removal
> of the ban. He had told a private TV channel on November 15 that
> the Youtube ban may be lifted within 15 to 20 days.
> 
> Article:
> 
> Virtually blocked - With no breakthrough on YouTube registration
> in Pakistan in sight, the authorities affirm the ban will stay By
> Shahzada Irfan Ahmed refresh - TNS The News on Sunday December 09,
> 2012 Source:
> http://jang.com.pk/thenews/Dec2012-weekly/nos-09-12-2012/dia.htm#1
> 
> After a prolonged spell of suppressed activity, social media
> websites in Pakistan suddenly became alive on Dec 3, with endless
> posts and tweets about the reopening of YouTube in the country. To
> many, this was nothing unexpected as the development had coincided
> with the tentative deadline given by Pakistan Telecommunication
> Authority (PTA) Chairman for the removal of the ban. He had told a
> private TV channel on November 15 that the Youtube ban may be
> lifted within 15 to 20 days.
> 
> Popular news channels also broke the news, mostly via tickers, but
> the furore was short-lived. Soon afterwards, the PTA sources
> denied issuing any such orders and held some service providers
> responsible for this discrepancy. Like always, they had no clue of
> when the ban was going to be lifted.
> 
> The situation to date is that there has not been any development
> since the imposition of a blanket ban on YouTube in Pakistan which
> came into effect on September 17. The PTA chairman once expressed
> the hope the website will be registered in Pakistan, but sources
> privy to its communication with Google — the owner of YouTube — say
> the internet giant has not given an encouraging response. Having a
> local presence in around 40 countries, with some small ones having
> an internet user base of only 3 million or so, apparently Google is
> not desirous of entertaining Pakistan’s request which has a base of
> 22 million internet users.
> 
> The question haunting many is whether the authorities have
> succeeded or not in getting the desired results with the help of
> this ban, and what will be the future course of action if Google
> does not register itself here.
> 
> Muhammad Nawaz, an IT geek, technologist and academic, says the 
> government of Pakistan should have signed a contract with Google
> years ago as this was not the first time the website had been
> blocked in Pakistan. Had it been registered inside Pakistan, it
> would have been bound to abide by the local laws issued by the
> local authorities.
> 
> The ban, he says, is of no use as people have found ways to
> circumvent it. “Those who want to access YouTube are doing that
> with the help of certain softwares, proxy websites and Internet
> Protocol (IP) blockers”.
> 
> Nawaz says the objectionable trailer of the blasphemous movie that 
> triggered the ban was blocked in India, Turkey etc. just because
> they had country versions of YouTube. “In Turkey, anyone who types 
> YouTube.com is diverted to YouTube.com.tr but this is not the case 
> here. There the website has had to comply with the orders of
> Turkish courts and has often blocked content such as that related
> to Kemal Ataturk.”
> 
> On the other hand, a well-discussed Multi-Lateral Assistance
> Treaty (MLAT) between Google and Pakistan is pending for well above
> two years, mainly due to the lack of interest shown by the PTA and
> other related authorities. “What can we expect from the authority
> which cannot even block the websites like 
> https://www.facebook.com/3Gcorruption targetting its own sitting
> and outgoing bosses.”
> 
> Nawaz points out that a large number of people have been deprived
> of the opportunity to do educational research online, access 
> entertainment-related content, benefit from religious content and 
> health tips. To elaborate his point, he says, there are between
> 70,000 to 80,000 students enrolled with the Virtual University (VU)
> who access their lectures via YouTube. “Though there’s a compulsion
> on cable operators to air VU channels on their networks but hardly
> anyone does that. So YouTube is the only option left for them.”
> 
> There is another angle to the story which is apparently haunting
> the PTA. Fouad Bajwa, an internet rights activist and policy
> advocate based in Lahore, observes that in Pakistan the internet
> policy has always been based on public demand and defined by norms
> of public morality. “The PTA fears that its policy decision to open
> YouTube may affect public order as has happened in the form of
> protests leading to loss of property and lives in Pakistan”.
> 
> Based on his interactions with different stakeholders, Bajwa feels
> the government has been under pressure to open the website. “But
> the challenge on the other hand is that the Google is not listening
> to the government demands to remove or block the objectionable
> content. I’ve also heard that Badar Khushnood, the Google
> representative in Pakistan, has also failed to convince the Google
> to do something acceptable to the Pakistani authorities”.
> 
> So right now, the PTA is facing a challenge and has to decide
> whether it should open the website or not and, if yes, on what
> conditions. It is strongly believed among the internet community
> that the Google is sticking to its own vision of freedom of
> expression, something its representative expressed at the Internet
> Governance Forum in Baku recently.
> 
> Google representative Badar Khushnood was not willing to comment
> due to the sensitivity of the issue. It was also learnt he is
> avoiding media interaction since the day the Interior Minister
> Rahman Malik publicly warned of action against him if the Google
> refused to cooperate with Pakistan on terrorism-related issues.
> 
> Sources say the Google has expressed fears that local registration
> of YouTube will compromise the interests of the Pakistani public at
> the hands of the state. They add the PTA has offered to follow all
> the requirements for local registration, but Google is giving one
> excuse or the other every time. The internet giant believes the
> restoration of judiciary in Pakistan, the Arab Spring in the Middle
> East and the uprising in Iran became successful only because the
> site was not subservient to local laws.
> 
> So, the option the PTA is working on is to set up a highly
> advanced content filtering system which will block the unwanted
> material and may also detect use of proxy servers, the sources say,
> adding “when will it be possible is a mystery.” This will be a
> tough task as an estimated 72 hours of video content is uploaded on
> Facebook every minute.
> 
> TNS forwarded a questionnaire to the PTA spokesperson Malahat Rab
> more than a week ago, but she has still not responded. All we have
> received is a statement forwarded on behalf of Sajjad Latif Awan,
> Director Enforcement, PTA Headquarters, Islamabad. It says the PTA
> has not ordered anybody to open the access of YouTube in Pakistan
> and there are reports that some service providers and operators
> have facilitated that.
> 
> “The PTA has initiated inquiry to check which Service Providers
> and Operators have opened the access to YouTube and afterwards
> stern actions will be taken against those responsible,” it adds.
> 

- -- 
Michael Carbone
Project Manager | Access | https://www.accessnow.org
michael at accessnow.org | PGP: 0x81B7A13
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