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pakistan

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The Pakistani government lifted on Saturday its YouTube ban after an anti-Islam video on the website stirred riots among Muslims, but reimposed it three minutes later when they found irreverent clips were still on-site.

Pakistani officials lifted the ban on YouTube after months of continuous bashing from locals to restore access to the popular online video-sharing site.

The authorities said filters were in place to hide offensive content, but quickly retraced their course in a seemingly miscarried attempt.

On September 17, Pakistanis went to the streets furious over a US-made YouTube video that poked fun at Prophet Muhammad.

The government immediately told the country’s telecoms companies to prevent online content regarded as anti-Muslim and advised locals to inform them on such material.

Around 25 million Internet users in the country griped that the ban on YouTube is merely government censorship to control its people.

The Express Tribune, an English language gazette based in Karachi, wrote on Friday in a column that the move exercises ‘naked power play’ by the Pakistani.

“This is about controlling our behavior and denying us access to the Internet. We need to make it clear that we do not wish to regress to a dark age when a centralized authority controlled all access to information. Retreating to such an era would essentially mean that we were longer living in a democracy,” read the editorial to mark the 100th day of the ban.

According to The New York Times, Rehman Malik, the country’s interior minister, said on Friday evening that the government will lift the ban by Saturday or Sunday and security systems installed by computer experts will block pornography and sacrilegious content.

The Pakistan Telecommunication Authority ordered local Internet service providers (ISPs) to open their doors to YouTube on Saturday.

Geo, a private TV news network with a large following, reported by Saturday afternoon that anti-Muslim and blasphemous content were still accessible on YouTube.

Ansar Abbasi, editor of Investigations at The News International and a right wing journalist who frequently opines on morality and religion, spearheaded the criticisms.

Pakistani Prime Minister Raja Pervez Ashraf gave in to the demand of critics and directed ISPs to reinstate the ban on YouTube.

The U-turn generated severe censures from users and ignited a rapid active commotion of jests on Twitter on the Pakistani government’s nervous actions and turnabout.

Zubair Kasuri, the editor of Karachi-based telecoms mag Flare, shared with The NY Times his astonishment on the government’s failure to set up a working firewall when it had several months to perfect it.

Pakistan's YouTube Ban Lifted For Three Minutes
Image: Claudia Liliana via Flickr (CC)

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The Pakistan military is producing their own homespun tablet computer called the PACPAD 1, a report from The Associated Press reveals.

Using Chinese components, the PACPAD 1 is assembled “inside a high-security air force complex that builds jet fighters and weapons systems,” the news organization reports.

The PACPAD 1 is an affordable alternative to more expensive tablets like the Apple iPad or the Galaxy Tab devices from Samsung,

How affordable? The PACPAD 1 is reportedly sold in Pakistan for “about $200”, the AP says.

Although it may be affordable, the PACPAD falls short of the $35 Aakash tablet made upon order of the government of India.

The tablet, which runs on Android 2.3 Gingerbread, has what appears to be a keypad and navigation keys on the side.

As for other features, the report is scarce about details aside from the mention that the PACPAD 1 is equipped with a 7-inch touch screen.

According to the AP, the PACPAD 1 is named after the Pakistan Aeronautical Complex (PAC) where the Pakistan military manufactures the tablet.

The Pakistan military makes the PACPAD 1 tablet. Image: B.K. Bangash (AP)

Source: The Associated Press via Google

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The Pakistan Telecom Authority (PTA) distributed to carriers a list of 1,600 prohibited words and phrases that can’t be used in texting because they are considered obscene. The words and phrases on the list range from the religious to the ridiculous to disgusting and of course, naughty, including “Jesus Christ”, “do me”, “barf”, and “back door.”

 

pta-banned-list
Twitterverse abuzz over PTA's ban of 1,600 words from texting.

Carriers were informed that they must prevent these 1,600 prohibited words from being texted on their networks within 7 days or face legal action.  An official at one telecom operator explained to the AFP that the banned words, which include swear words, slang, sexual phrases, must all be blocked. The official explained this will be a strain on the system: “The filtering is not good for the system and may degrade the quality of network services – plus it would be a great inconvenience to our subscribers if their SMS was not delivered due to the wrong choice of words.”

 

Twitter users are expressing their opinions about the banned words using the hashtag #PTABannedList.

 

Free speech is guaranteed under Pakistan’s constitution, but the PTA told carriers that, based on court rulings, the right to free speech is not unrestricted, and it is the responsibility of the telecom operators to stop “obnoxious communication.”

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Pakistan-youtube-google-blockPakistani Government may ban Google and YouTube if these websites don’t cooperate with local agencies in investigation of terrorist incidents, reports PTI. The warning came from Pakistan Interior Minister Rehman Malik while talking to reporters at the headquarters of the Federal Investigation Agency.

Malik said that if Google and YouTube don’t cooperate for investigation of crime and terrorism incidents, they could be banned in Pakistan. The government would be compelled to do so, said minister. According to him, these websites should help authorities to wipe out terrorism from the land of Pakistan.

Terrorist groups in Pakistan and Afghanistan are using Internet for intelligence sharing, he said. However, he did not provide any details about how Youtube and Google could provide information about the terrorist incidents.

Some Pakistani TV news channels also reported that the minister has issued an order to register a case against the administrator of Google Pakistan.

There is no shortage of civil society and rights groups in Pakistan that ridiculed Rehman Malik in the recent past for several of his comments. Some time back, he had given a statement that a majority of target killings in the Karachi city occurred due to jealous girlfriends and wives instead of criminal groups.

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pakistan-vpn-internet-banThe Government of Pakistan has imposed a ban on private browsing to stop militants from communicating with each other using secure Internet connection, reports ANI.

All ISPs of the country have been directed by the Pakistan Telecommunication Authority (PTA) to ensure that Internet users cannot use technology that enables them to privately browse the Internet.

As per the PTA spokesman, this move is intended only to restrict militants’ communication. However, it can only be achieved by preventing all Pakistani users from using virtual private networks (VPNs). VPN is the facility with enables users to share data without external monitoring.

 

Over the past few months, PTA has blocked many websites in Pakistan, including Rolling Stone website that offers content related to pop-culture and politics. The website was blocked in July, but the PTA spokesman had no idea, when asked, about why the site was blocked.

According to a source at an Islamabad-based ISP, a notice was issued to ISPs to block a blog post of writer Matt Taibbi on the Rolling Stone website. This post titled ‘Pakistan’s insane military spending up there with America’s’ criticized Pakistan Army for spending all its budget to guard against India instead of taking action against militants.

Since ISP cannot block any particular webpage or URL, they had no option but to block the whole website.

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