YouTube ban can’t be lifted without SC’s directives, NA told

ISLAMABAD: The National Assembly was informed on Wednesday that the ongoing ban on video-sharing website YouTube could not be lifted without seeking directives from the Supreme Court.

Answering to question of Shazia Marri during the question hour, Minister for Parliamentary Affairs Shaikh Aftab Ahmed said the government had imposed ban on YouTube on the directives of the Supreme Court in 2012 after loading of objectionable content on it. He said the Pakistan Telecommunication Authority (PTA) lacks the mechanism to block objectionable material on YouTube because it laid on http and there is no technology in the world to stop it.

He said to comply with the instructions of any state with regard to blocking any Universal Resource Indicator (URI) on YouTube, Google has the requirements of inking Mutual Legal Assistance Treaty (MLAT). Countries like Saudi Arabia have signed MLAT with Google – resultantly Google has developed a local domain in the kingdom. The minister informed the house that six other Muslim countries, Afghanistan, Indonesia, Bangladesh, Iran, Egypt and Sudan also blocked the YouTube in 2012 due to blasphemous contents.

After due discussion with Google, he said Pakistan has included the relevant sections in Cyber Crime Bill which is in process of enactment. Once the law is enacted giving third party indemnity to Goolge, the MLAT would be signed. After that the Google would be more comfortable in abiding by the instructions of Government of Pakistan for blocking of any objectionable material. The PTA was proactively identifying and continuously flagging/reporting the Universal Resource Indicators (URIs) of the blasphemous movie/clip to Google and in response they add interstitials screen/warning on those videos depending upon Google’s own policy, the minister concluded.

Responding to another question, Federal Parliamentary Affairs Minister Sheikh Aftab said using of sewerage/contaminated water for irrigation purposes in Tarlai area of Islamabad is serious threat to human lives. The minister said that the officers of Pakistan Environmental Protection Agency (Pak-EPA) have visited the area and found that the sewerage water is being used for agriculture purpose in some of the farms in Tarlai area. The Pak-EPA has conducted a detailed visit of Tarlai fruit and vegetable farms areas in Islamabad to identify the use of sewerage water for agriculture purpose.

Pak-EPA in collaboration with ICT administration and Capital Development Authority (CDA) is working on controlling sewage pollution in the catchment area of the Rawal Lake and Simly Dam which is source of drinking water, the minister maintained. The parliamentarians raised several questions over the CDA affairs, and said it is a corrupt department and totally failed to address even the problems of parliaments. Non-parliamentarians have occupied space in parliament lodges and the CDA failed to displace them.

Speaker NA Ayaz Sadiq informed the house that he was going to hold a meeting with CDA top management because there are several complaints of parliamentarians. “The CDA is doing nothing to address people problems”, he claimed. Federal Minister Sheikh Aftab told the House that the new CDA Chairman is a competent person and taking appropriate measure to improve performance of the civic body. However, he admitted that most of the people have complaint against the CDA.

Daily Times

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