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YouTube to be localized in Pakistan

Islamabad: A new arrangement with the management of Google/YouTube has increased the chance of YouTube being unblocked in Pakistan.

If these conditions of the Google management are met, YouTube will be accessible as YouTube.com.pk, a local search engine.

This was stated by Minister of State for Information Technology and Telecommunications Anusha Rehman at Senate Standing Committee.

She explained to the committee that the government had succeeded in convincing the Google management about religious sensitivities of Pakistanis. The local search engine will also make it easier to block any blasphemous or objectionable content, she said.

However, the management of Google will do so after the government of Pakistan meets some of its conditions, she maintained.

“The Pakistan Telecommunication Authority (PTA) is finalizing a draft ordinance which will be processed by the ministry for enactment as law,” said the minister.

Breaking the news to members of the Senate Standing Committee on Information Technology and Telecommunications, Anusha Rehman explained that once YouTube was localized, blocking objectionable content would be easier.

“Saudi Arabia and Malaysia have also reached a similar arrangement with Google,” Anusha Rehman said.

The largest video sharing website was blocked on September 17, 2012 by the Inter-Ministerial Committee (IMC).

The minister said a team was also being tasked in the PTA to monitor obnoxious content including blasphemy on the website.

Responding to a question from the members, the minister said she could not give an exact date for the re-opening of YouTube.

The new Chairman PTA Dr Ismail Shah however said: “It can be unblocked anytime; tomorrow or after weeks.”

A sub-committee was formed to investigate and assist the Ministry of Information Technology in speeding up the process to make YouTube accessible to Pakistani users.

Meanwhile, the Standing Committee also took up matters concerning auction of 3G which is likely to take place by first week of March 2014, according to Anusha Rehman.

Taking up other matters on the agenda, the committee expressed its dissatisfaction over poor utilization of $62 billion lying under the Universal Services Funds (USF).

It also directed the ministry to check grey trafficking, which cost the government roughly $500 million monthly.

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