Pakistan News

Senate body asks govt to unblock YouTube

Senate body asks govt to unblock YouTube

ISLAMABAD: A Senate standing committee on Tuesday directed the Ministry of Information Technology to unblock YouTube at the earliest.

“Both the Internet users and service providers are at the losing ends. The users have been deprived of an important educational platform and Google is losing money,” said chairman Senate Standing Committee on Information Technology Shahi Syed.

On Sept 17, 2012, the Supreme Court directed the Pakistan Telecommunication Authority (PTA) to block a controversial and amateur film ‘Innocence of Muslims’ uploaded on all websites. Since then, the world’s largest video sharing website has been inaccessible in Pakistan.

The Senate committee took up the issue to understand why YouTube was still blocked. While the case was still in the SC, officials from the PTA informed the committee that Lahore High Court had also taken up the matter and spent over a year to find ways to unblock YouTube.

“Despite all the discussions with technical people to find possibilities to access the video sharing-website, it was realised that objectionable content could not be blocked completely,” Member Telecom Ministry of IT, Mudassar Hussain, told the committee.

He said the ministry was requesting Google to introduce a local version of YouTube in Pakistan.

However, Google was reluctant to do so until the government assured it that the service provider would not be held accountable for the content uploaded by individuals.

“Google’s concern has been addressed in the Prevention of Electronic Crimes Bill 2015. Under the proposed law, the intermediary service provider will not be held responsible for content placed by internet users,” Mr Hussain added.

About the tax collection from cellular mobile companies, Senator Rubina Khalid finally got an answer to her question which she had asked three years ago.

The senator doubted if the cellular companies were depositing taxes deducted on pre-paid phone cards in the government accounts.

Chief Revenue Operations, FBR, Shad Mohammad, told the committee that the FBR did not have the means to confirm if the mobile companies were evading taxes.

“FBR lacks expertise to carry out a forensic audit,” he added.

Published in Dawn, September 16th, 2015

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