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Pakistan tells YouTube: Clean up your videos or face ban!

By Michael Mayday , Jun 12, 2013 10:40 AM EDT
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Pakistan's IT minister has warned Google that the bureaucratic office may block the company's services if it doesn't remove "blasphemous and objectionable" videos from YouTube.

That threat comes from Anusha Rahman Khan in her first day on the job, and highlights another conflict YouTube has with censorship-heavy countries.

But Pakistan's new IT minister also said that she'd be willing to lift the current nine-month ban, the result of a 2012 YouTube video, on YouTube if Google were to filter videos accessed by users in the country.

And it's not too far of a stretch for Google to provide the Pakistani government with some form of YouTube censorship - especially if local law demands it. Currently, the company provides 49 countries with restricted versions of YouTube, according to Pakistan's The Daily Times, but only after the company is notified of an illegal video and only after the company reviews the alleged offenses of a flagged video.

Google said it's amiable to such a relationship with Pakistan, but claims it first needs to navigate Pakistani law.

Pakistan is currently blocking access to YouTube in response to a controversial YouTube video named "Innocence of Muslims." That YouTube video set off an international firestorm over its crude portrayal of the Muslim prophet Muhammad.

The portrayal set off riots in the Middle East, particularly at U.S. embassies. It was also briefly thought to be catalyst for the attack on a U.S. consolate and a CIA annex in Benghazi, Libya, which claimed the lives of three defense contractors and U.S. Ambassador Christopher Stevens - the first U.S. ambassador to be killed overseas since 1979 - though such concerns were later proven untrue.

This, according to CNET, isn't Pakistan's first clash with YouTube. The country had temporarily blocked YouTube in 2008 over a video critical of Islam.

In addition to blocking YouTube, the Islamic Republic has also blocked access to Twitter and Facebook, also over concerns of Internet users mocking both Islam and the prophet Muhammad.

It's unclear if Google plans on submitting to Pakistani concerns. As The Times of India reports, Google has rejected previous requests to censor YouTube videos in the past.

"It all depends on our negotiation clout," Khan said to The Times of India. "If they persist with their stance, we can block Google in Pakistan as a last resort as there are many alternative search engines available on the Web."

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