The Guardian reports the Pakistan government's announcement today that they will lift the overall ban on YouTube, while continuing to block videos "displaying profane or sacrilegious material".
A report in the Times of India suggests that Facebook is likely be treated in a similar way, with an overall ban being removed, but continued restriction on specific material deemed offensive. From the article:
Facebook continues to be banned and the Lahore High Court's order on the social networking website is applicable till May 31. In a message posted on Twitter today, Interior Minister Rehman Malik said a meeting of the federal cabinet had condemned "blasphemous material" on websites. He said the cabinet had also accepted his proposal to block only objectionable "sections of Facebook and YouTube".
The BBC reports that the Pakistani government -- which just yesterday restricted access to Facebook -- has now decided to block the popular video sharing website YouTube as well because of its "growing sacrilegious content." The Pakistan Telecommunications Authority authorities said it had ordered internet service providers to "completely shut down" YouTube and prevent Facebook from being viewed within Pakistan. Some Wikipedia pages are also now being restricted, latest reports say. As we reported yesterday, YouTube was also blocked briefly in 2008, ostensibly for carrying material deemed offensive to Muslims. A YouTube spokesperson said:
"[We are] looking into the matter and working to ensure that the service is restored as soon as possible... YouTube offers citizens the world over a vital window on cultures and societies and we believe people should not be denied access to information via video. Because YouTube is a platform for free expression of all sorts, we take great care when we enforce our policies. Content that violates our guidelines is removed as soon as we become aware of it."
Facebook said in a statement on Wednesday:
"While the content does not violate our terms, we do understand it may not be legal in some countries. In cases like this, the approach is sometimes to restrict certain content from being shown in specific countries."
Fouad Bajwa -- a Pakistani member of the liberation technology community, a free and open source software advocate, ICT4D adviser, and social entrepreneur -- brings us the following news from Al-Jazeera, the National Daily Times of Pakistan, and Pakistani News about Pakistan's recent decision to ban social networking site Facebook. Following a complaint filed by the Islamic Lawyers Movement alleging blasphemy on the competition to draw cartoons of the Prophet Mohammed (Sallallahu Alayhi Wa-aal-hi-Wasallam) -- hosted on Facebook and to take place on May 20, the Lahore High Court (LHC) instructed the Pakistan Telecommunications Authority (PTA) to ban the social networking site in that country.
Alfonso Gumucio -- coordinator of the International Committee for OurMedia -- writes to inform about the their upcoming conference to take place on October 4-9, 2010. Please read below for details:
"Dear colleagues from the OurMedia network all over the world (and those who may join soon), this short message is to confirm that the next OurMedia 9 Conference will take place in Pakistan, on 4-9 October 2010, please block that week in your agendas because you don’t want to miss it."
"The Center for Rural Development Communication, at the University of Sindh, in Southern Pakistan near Karachi, has offered to host the OM9 Conference. This university is known to be a multicultural environment in a fairly safe and calm region of the country."
"We will issue a complete Call for Proposals in about two weeks. Right now, we have set up an International Committee, and our colleagues at the University of Sindh have created a Local Committee to take ahead the various tasks inherent to the organization procedures."
"The general theme and methodology is been discussed by a sub-group made of colleagues from both committees, and you will soon receive information about it in the CfP."
The democratization process is often uneven and rocky as the power dynamic shifts between governments and their respective power houses. In practically all cases in developing countries governments have been hostile to citizens, civil and political rights organizations and in the cases of young and emerging democracies evidence over the last few decades suggests that strides made towards democracy can be reversed, and countries can revert to less democratic practices and cultures failing the efforts to install or deepen democracy in countries with little experience of how to nurture such processes leaving democracy to chance or in many cases at the mercy of unchecked and rampant abuse by the very governments who might profess respect for its citizens’ civil and political rights.