LHC to hear reopening of You Tube
Lahore High Court (LHC) division bench will hold hearing of the petition seeking reopening of YouTube in the country tomorrow (Tuesday). The division bench hearing the case consists of Jus-tice Syed Munawar Ali Shah and Justice Shujat Ali Khan.
The recommendations of the four member commit-tee of experts constituted on the directives of the apex court ordered during previous hearing held on March 13 will be presented before the court during the hearing. The four member committee included Federal Secretary Information Technology Ikhlaq Tarar, Chairman PTA Ismail Shah, Member Telecom Mudasir Hussain and a representative of the Attorney General. The Minister of State for IT Mrs. Anusha Rahman has already declared that the government will strictly follow the directions given by the Lahore High Court in the subject matter. Sources said the ministry tried to dig out the genesis of the Youtube issue in historical prospective and subsequent developments in chronological order. YouTube Website (www.youtube.com) was blocked in pursuance to the Supreme Court interim decision dated September 17, 2012 in CP No. 104 of 2012 as no technical solution was available to block all the copies of the objectionable movie “The Innocence of Muslims” on YouTube and the compliance of Supreme Court decision could not be achieved without turning off whole of YouTube.
YouTube runs in two modes: http (open) and https (encrypted). The Experts agree to the fact that in http mode, the PTA can block specific copies of the video as was the practice previously, whereas in https mode, blocking of this video is not possible (even with some of the radical techniques proposed till date) since the specific video being requested by the user cannot be detected by an intermediary solution or PTA.
There are hundreds of copies of the video “Innocence of Muslims” available on YouTube and other sites which link to the YouTube video. After manually searching hundreds of thousands of URL links, thousands of copies have been located by a diligent search conducted by the Ministry of IT and PTA and Google was made aware of these objectionable copies. However, since any user in the world can create new copies at any time, the list of video copies cannot be complete at any one point. As a result of the efforts of MoIT and PTA to have the objectionable movie blocked, Google has, as a compromise minimal measure, flagged majority of the copies of this objectionable video with Warning pages.
These “interstitial” warning pages now warn the user that they are requesting objectionable content. However, due to the impossibility of creating a fully comprehensive list of all copies of the video, these warning pages cover only those copies that have been “flagged” by MoIT and PTA and ap-propriately marked by Google.
There remains the possibility of “un-flagged” copies that would not have this warning page due to the constant update of new links by PTA. Studies from all stakeholders including PTA have shown that in almost all Muslim countries including Saudi Arabia, Qatar, Malaysia, Bangladesh etc, YouTube is open. Some countries have localized versions of the site under legal and commercial arrangements with Google giving them more leverage in access of certain types of content. Other countries have their technical solutions but they are for general censorship of internet not specific to You Tube. PTA has time and again reiterated that there is no known technical solution available that can ensure 100% blocking of the controversial movie. In various interactions with Google management, Ministry had vehemently articulated that presence of objectionable video on You Tube is infringing with the religious sentiments of the people of Pakistan, constitu-tion and local laws and therefore it was imperative to remove the objectionable content from You Tube. How-ever, the defence of Google has always been their internal policies do not allow.
In the most recent discussion when a senior Google representative visited Pakistan, Google proposed to place an “interstitial warning” on every flagged copy of objectionable movie, which warning can be seen all across the World. On the demand by the Ministry for of localization of You Tube in Pakistan, Google had demanded third party intermediary liability protection. Ministry had made steps as highlighted below for provision of such protection; however, then Google management has clubbed such liability protection provision in the law with a business case for Google.