Monday, 19 August, 2019

Google ponders purified Pakistani YouTube


Pakistan’s Standing Committee on Information Technology and Communications has recommended that the nation end its ban on YouTube.

Pakistan was unhappy with YouTube for years, on grounds that it made it possible to view content considered blasphemous. Once the controversial film “Innocence of Muslims” made it to Google’s streaming site in 2012, the nation blocked YouTube and plenty of other sites too.

That ban has stood since 2012, largely thanks to the requirement that the nation’s Supreme Court waive the decision. Pakistani citizens protested the ban with a widely-signed petition that, after being ignored for a couple of years, appeared on the agenda of a Tuesday meeting of the Standing Committee.

Pakistani media reports suggest the outcome of that meeting was a recommendation that Pakistan lift the ban, as discussions between the nation and Google have reached the point at which search and advertising giant is willing to create a blasphemy-free version of YouTube just for Pakistani viewers.

One report, from Daily Pakistan, says the ban stood for so long because Google asked Pakistan to pay for a blasphemous material filtering service.

All reports agree that Google and Pakistan are talking with a view to getting YouTube switched back on on the nation. If that happens it will be another sign, if any are needed, of Google’s enthusiasm for a strong presence in developing nations. Last week the company dropped the floor price for apps in India to just US$0.15, down from $0.75. Google’s also pursuing Project Loon to bathe developing nations in broadband-from-balloons in order to hasten internet adoption in countries where even mobile networks aren’t widespread.

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