What You Need To Know About The YouTube Ban

While YouTube has been banned for more than a year and a half, the consumption of cat videos in Pakistan has not seen a decline. Most Pakistanis simply use the hundreds of VPN services available that allow them to access not only YouTube, but other “banned in Pakistan” websites as well. While the YouTube Ban was initially put into place to stop rioting from taking place, it has dragged on as the government tries to put in place a country-wide filtration system for Internet traffic.

Many people, despite the ban, have not tried to read through all the information available about the court case currently in progress at the Lahore High Court, filed by Bytes For All against the Government of Pakistan. The latest hearing has once again started the conversation about the ban, what it means for privacy on the Internet for the average Pakistani, and why it won’t be resolved soon.

Background on the YouTube Ban

In September 2012, the Government of Pakistan imposed a ban on YouTube, in response to a film, “Innocence of Muslims” that was uploaded on the website. The government decided to block the website, citing the possibility of rioting on the streets, which is what had happened when the Danish cartoon issue came out in the public. Unfortunately, the ban was not enough to stop rioting in this case, yet the ban continues to stay in place.

At the time of the ban, the average Pakistani on the street was of the opinion that Google should remove the video from YouTube, as it was causing them to lose “millions of dollars” from the Pakistani market. Not true. Google, or YouTube, never lost any revenue from the blocking of YouTube in Pakistan.

Google’s Response

A petition was filed in the Lahore High Court, seeking to overturn the ban. At this point, a few things became clear, specifically, what Google felt could be done about the issue.

When asked to remove the video, Google reviewed the video against the YouTube Community Guidelines, and since it did not breach them, said that they could not remove the video.

Since the issue was not limited to Pakistan, Google was able to tell that they had blocked the content on the country level domains for countries like Indonesia, Jordan, India, Malaysia, Russia, Saudi Arabia, Singapore and Turkey. This could not happen for Pakistan as Google does not have a legal presence here, and does not have a country level domain. Local laws only apply if a country is registered in the territory. Google was then asked – in 2013 – if they would register in Pakistan, so that the matter could be resolved. This response was a result of some laws in Pakistan that do not protect online platforms from the actions of their users.

The gist of Google’s response was, “The decision as to whether to offer this service is a business, legal and commercial decision, and takes into consideration, for example, whether there is adequate legal certainty and protections for the provision of such online services in the country.”

Google did, however, gave an option of an interstitial warning, which is a disclaimer that shows up saying that the video might be inappropriate. To watch the content, you would have to click through to the actual video.

Blanket Filtration

Since the issue cannot be resolved on the Google end of things, the government has taken to resolving the issue by filtering web-traffic in the country. Since they cannot block specific links to the video – as hundreds more appear – the government has decided to invest in filtering equipment that can guarantee that the video is blocked. China has a massive firewall in place – as everyone knows – and still it’s residents manage to view the websites they wish to view. The latest proposal is to filter HTTP and HTTPS traffic – which will severely compromise information transmitted over the internet.

The Government of Pakistan is failing to realize the much simpler – cheaper – solution to the traffic – investing in raising the tolerance of the public and creating public awareness on the issue. At several points along the hearings, the judges and the PTA have both said that it would be better to unblock YouTube and adopt this approach instead.

Organizations to Keep an Eye on

As the issue has dragged on, and become more and more convoluted in the process, here are the movers and shakers we recommend you follow to get the updates:

Bytes for All, Twitter: @BytesForAll

Bolo Bhi, Twitter: @BoloBhi

Both organizations have done a lot to challenge the ban, create public awareness on the issue, and provide easy to digest press releases as the court case drags on. Here are some links for further information.

Bolo Bhi Press Release Archive

Bolo Bhi – YouTube Ban Timeline



  1. faizan

    18/03/2014 at 10:26 pm

    i like it youtobe

  2. MJA

    18/03/2014 at 11:09 pm

    Pakistan: The world’s second most if not THE most corrupt country in the whole world, where every form of un-Islamic activity from corruption to terrorism, target killings, strikes, rape, murder, theft, kidnappings, muggings, robberies, snatching, bribery, lies, deceit and underhanded business practices takes place but that is tolerated and ignored. That is ok and not deemed un-Islamic. Someone uploads a stupid 2 minute movie trailer which flopped and the whole country is in upheaval because its deemed blasphemous and un-Islamic. Now look at other Muslim nations like Malaysia, Indonesia, Bangladesh, Oman, UAE, Qatar, Bahrain, Kuwait, Iran, Saudi Arabia, Egypt and Turkey where Youtube is open and not restricted to anyone and how those countries function and where they stand on the world stage as compared to this so-called ‘Land of the pure’. They are prosperous and successful. Simply put Pakistan is a nation of two faced hypocrites who live in a constant state of denial and use Islam and religion only to suit their convenience. That is a fact and the truth and you know very well that is the truth.

    • Salman Faris

      19/03/2014 at 4:50 am

      Its not your matter what Pakistan is doing.

      • MJA

        19/03/2014 at 8:24 pm

        Its very much my matter Einstein because I live here and see everything first hand.

    • AJA

      19/03/2014 at 5:44 am

      hey MJA!
      I think you have not read this all completely, because the answer of one of your saying is written in this text which is a quoted “Google was able to tell that they had blocked the content on the country level domains for countries like Indonesia, Jordan, India, Malaysia, Russia, Saudi Arabia, Singapore and Turkey. This could not happen for Pakistan as Google does not have a legal presence here”
      ok now for your other question. you know Pakistan has a country named “India”. Have you heard what happens in there? Girls are raped on an open road in bus, the tourist who visit the country are raped. Even an international journalist was raped. So is India any Good?
      You are talking about Terrorism by Islam, Have you seen videos of Indian terrorism in “Kashmir” search this on youtube,
      You think Pakistan is a country of extremism, search India where there are mass murders of both Christians and Muslims on basis of their religion, churches are set on fire and one of the persons responsible for such mass-occurs is going for elections to become president. what will happen if this happened.
      Do your homework first and then point your fingers on others.
      Have a Good Day

      • k8

        19/03/2014 at 1:43 pm

        nobody has even mentioned india. article is about pakistan if you didnt notice! to be clear i am not defending india but come on yar. whenever someone says something about pakistan will you rather turn against india? just face it!!!

        • MJA

          19/03/2014 at 8:29 pm

          Thank you. Some people just look for excuses to start comparing Pakistan with India and how much better Pakistan is to India which sadly it is not. Compare the crime rate in Pakistan as compared to India. Yes there were rapes there in India and you saw how the public reacted to it. They did not sit quietly. They came on the streets and protested but to date has anyone come out to protest against what is happening in Pakistan? Of course not. Everyone just throws up their hands and says ‘Allah Maliq Hai’. That’s their solution.

          Secondly I too live in Pakistan hence giving MY opinions based on what i see first hand. Terrorism is just one of the many crimes I have pointed out but unfortunately people like AJA can only see that far and not beyond that because it gives them a chance to start an India rant.

          • AJA

            20/03/2014 at 10:55 am

            Hello MJA!
            its good that you live in Pakistan, so you must have seen the situation when some cartoons were made about Islam in Denmark. People came on the streets and broke everything else except recording their protest againt the Denmark newspaper. They set on fire the cars, buses and robbed everything they could rob.
            This same thing happened in India against the rapists. did you see any result of it? yes you did saw the result when the innocent owners on cars, bikes and buses lost their source of income and this is a sign of extremists which in your own words are Talibans.
            So Pakistanis have got a mind and instead of making innocent others lose their only source of income cars, bikes and buses the chose to stay calm and in case of your saying that rape incidents happen in Pakistan also, you must also see how many people now show their concern by vsiting the hospitals in which they are treated, They are not like setting on fire what ever thing comes in their way.

            This happens in America also (now you must be relieved I said anything else about India) the people when they dislike anything, they do peaceful things. They even have their own ways of choosing someone from politics, do you know that the Politician answers live questions from audience Does any of this happens in the South Asia?

            so to sum this all things up
            1- People of Pakistan choose to say “Allah Malik hai” to be on the calm side, they want to avoid some innocent to loose his bike, car or something else which may be his only source of income.
            2- If you like people of Pakistan protest and burn everything in their way, then you have to be a supporter of Taliban because its their way of doing, the attitude of ‘raising a gun in the hand and shooting if the command is not dome”
            3- For the question of me comparing Pakistan with India, you must know a proverb “A man is known by the company he keeps” so it will be injustice if you compare Pakistan with America etc.
            4- You say Pakistan is a country of extremists, thats why I was trying to show you what extremists really are by giving an example? you deny the example?

            now I want you to answer.
            1- have you seen a program called “Truth Pakistan” on Indian National Television (DD1) where they have all the special reports about Pakistan. and can you name any program which is against India?
            2- How exactly you are saying that Pakistan is a country of Extremists, Can you tell me who funds them because the level at which they operate is enormous?
            3- When Pakistan was the country who gave way to American Troops (via land and air) so how come Taliban hid themselves on the borders from where American Troops entered Afghanistan?


        • AJA

          20/03/2014 at 10:13 am

          it can be true but you also might have read a proverb “A man is known by the company he keeps”
          so it will be just injustice if I compare Pakistan with the United States. it just does not seem logical.
          Thanks for the understanding

          • k8

            20/03/2014 at 11:07 am

            Claiming that india is worse than pakistan will not make pakistan become better. If you know what i mean..

          • AJA

            20/03/2014 at 11:36 am

            hi K8!
            looking at your comment. Is this really true that you are admitting that in fact India is worst than Pakistan?

          • MJA

            22/03/2014 at 4:45 pm

            Yes what you are saying is right but coming out on the street and burning cars, buses, cinemas, shops and indulging in robbery and crime is not a solution. That is not the venting of frustration, that is all pre planned. They wait for something to happen to give them an excuse to unleash a wave of destruction and crime. They did it even when Benazir was assassinated. The man who’s car or shop you are burning or the bank you are robbing, what has he got to do with a cartoon published in a European newspaper or a video you Youtube? Did he kill Benazir? Would you burn your own car or shop? Of course not. When you see this, does this make you proud of your fellow countrymen? Is this a logical or sane approach to any problem? This is also a form of terrorism carried out by uneducated jahil miscreants who just want an excuse to come out on the street and no one will do a thing about it. Was anyone arrested or shot? Never. The Govt does not care.

            I also never said that protesting by going on a rampage and destroying everything in sight is the solution. There are peaceful protests and violent protests, Many Pakistani’s choose violence as their solution. It could be to relieve pent up frustration or an excuse to indulge in criminal activities but at the end of the day it is still the wrong path to take and alot of this has to do with lack of education and massive unemployment and India has nothing to do with it. They have their own problems we have ours.

          • AJA

            24/03/2014 at 5:57 am

            I think you are getting all the facts wrong, lets suppose if all the events of violence are all true can you guide me through a report in which it was clearly stated that some hands wanted those protests as violent? its all the perception and if you are talking about perception then I would tell you all the stories which are revolving in China, Sri Lanka, Pakistan. The perception which say that their neighboring country India is supporting all the anti government people such as ‘Tamil Tigers’, ‘Taliban’ etc.
            The same violent event happened in India as well, so does it means that Indians themselves are such violent people, the event which happened for soo many days, or was it planned? like cum-on…. a rape happened in the capital of India, on a public transport, on an open road, the victim girl was thrown on the road after that and no one got her to hospital for about half an hour. Indians dont have humanity even just a little so? and then Indians choose violence as their solution. To show that they are such pious people…. then could be to relieve pent up frustration or an excuse to indulge in criminal activities.
            would you like to share that as well?

            MJA, why India has nothing to do with this all? I gave you an example of the reaction made at the same event which shows clearly that how Indians reacted violently. How its politicians are engaged in mass killing of non Hindu people. and you are pointing towards Taliban?? how cum? Politicians are chosen by people when they are elected, so definitely Indians support what they did in Non-Hindu mass killings while Talibans did get that luxury of support.

            So in Short:
            1- I gave you a reaction of the people at the same type of event which happened in India and Pakistan. Indians chose violence. Burnt Cars, Bikes and buses and committed all acts of violence. While Pakistanis chose to stay calm and follow the hearing to result.
            2- That rape event in India happened in the Heart of India, in a public transport. And the victim was thrown out of running bus on road. People as well as police stayed normal passing by the girl until someone called the ambulance and the girl was taken to hospital. AFTER HALF AN HOUR, TILL THE TIME NO ONE CARED ABOUT DOING ANYTHING!!!!! and then atlast they decided to chose violence and came out burning all things. INDIANS!!!
            3- The politicians who are involved in Mass Anti Non-Hindu killings including Christians and Muslims are still free to run election campaigns even though they are found guilty of doing so internationally……. does this means that people of India support his actions? so they are an organized form of Talibans supported by people of India.

            I want to ask:
            1- So how does India is better/different from all its neighboring countries?
            2- Why those Indian Talibans OOOOHHH SORRY SORRY……. Politicians are supported by people of India?

          • Shoaib

            27/08/2014 at 2:56 pm

            I really agree with you but pointing out that Pakistan is a country of uneducated people, will not solve your or either my problem, lets blame it all over the government. Pakistan has been in such state because of such corrupt politicians and never got the chance to recover from it.

    • Muhammad Farooq Khan Naghar

      19/03/2014 at 10:21 am

      Youtube remain block or being block it is not important.

      Reply to MR.Bann
      Pakistanis may be number one all evils as you counted here. But remember some facts;
      1. we shall not quiet if anyone make fun of anything which relates to Islam. What other Muslim Countries are doing it is not our matter, our matter is what we are doing?
      2. it is the reality of faith of our leaders (although they mostly secular), nobody will bear any fun about Islam, its teachings, its Personalities, either Holy Prophet Muhammad, Holy Prophet Jesus, Holy Prophet Mouses (Peace and blessing of Almighty God Allah be upon them), Followers of Holy Prophet Muhammad peace be upon him).
      3. We are bad, but look the reality, US, UN are nothing without Pakistan. this is not due to Pakistanis, This is due to our Islamic Ideology, Pakistan is an Islamic Ideological state and Ideological states may be bad but not wrong. In Sha Allah we will Good and We shall make Pure Islamic state and world will see it.

      • MJA

        19/03/2014 at 8:45 pm

        Ok Farooq if what other Muslim nations are doing is not the concern of Pakistan, then why is Pakistan the state it is in today? A borderline failed state steeped in corruption and crime, failing economy, poverty, Muslims fighting Muslims, Muslims killing Muslims, people lying through their teeth even over the smallest of matters etc. Is that prescribed by Islam? Is what is happening in Pakistan good? You live here, you read the newspapers and go out on the streets and deal with people from all walks of life, how much ‘good’ do you see? Do you see any of these things in any of the other Muslim nations I have named above? If you want to do good then God bless you, but I hope you can make your other fellow countrymen see the same way.

  3. Maddy

    19/03/2014 at 6:03 am

    YouTube ka pakistan mein open hona koi zarori nahi, bcoz itne arsay se band hai hum sab ka acha guzara ho he raha hai na. tu kya jaan azaab ai hoi hai k YT open honi chahye.

  4. Ban

    19/03/2014 at 8:12 am

    For information

    Here are the world’s 10 most corrupt nations, starting with the worst:

    North Korea (tied with Somalia and Afghanistan for No. 175)
    Afghanistan (tied with North Korea and Somalia for No. 175)
    South Sudan
    Turkmenistan (tied with Uzbekistan and Syria for No. 168)
    Syria (tied with Turkmenistan and Uzbekistan for No. 168)

    • MJA

      19/03/2014 at 8:38 pm

      Ban: I stand corrected. Thank you for the clarification.

  5. muhammad Aslam

    19/03/2014 at 10:51 am

    To MJA
    These are they people who are unable to sleep because Saudi Arabia does not allow their women to drive, while at the same time hundreds of innocent women and children are being murdered in Central Africa, Indian Kashmir and Burma by their respective government soldiers but they have no care for human rights violations over there. Let Pakistanis decide what is good for them and leave your foolish suggestions with yourself.

    • MJA

      19/03/2014 at 8:35 pm

      Sorry to say but Pakistani’s are incapable of making logical decisions which is precisely why this country is the state in which it is, an intolerant, wannabee Islamic state that uses Islam to its convenience but of course everyone will live in a constant state of denial and continue to do what they do in la la land.

      • Naeem Nawaz Chohan

        07/12/2015 at 1:27 pm

        @MJA… you with your fake name as you indians are fake from your birth…Who the hell are you to talk against our country …Why the hell you are not talking about indian Hindu terrorist groups in your country…India is a failed state because indian govt failed to take strong actions against hindu terrorists groups like RSS,Shev sena,VHP etc etc..More than 100 seperatists movement are there in india and people are fighting against indian occupations…Why the hell you bloody indian are Not solving your own messes in your failed country..and always making propaganda against our country..The whole world knows india is a terrorist country and spreading its terrorism all over the world ..Indian RAW is a terrorist group and Must be banned from UN…

  6. Atif saeed

    19/03/2014 at 1:58 pm

    well i think Pakistan should launch a website like youtube. we have a potential. it is better than to depend upon others.

  7. k8

    21/03/2014 at 8:54 am

    well may Allah save Pakistan from self-destruction
    I think its all I can say

    • Naeem Nawaz

      06/12/2015 at 3:59 pm

      Dear @AJA,,with your fake name as you indians are all fake from your generation.. May Allah sage India from self-destruction because Indian Hindu terrorists are more stronger than Indian govt and army..In fact indian Hindu terrorists are governing now india in the shape of moodi a biggest terrorist in the world…You must solve your internal problems and if you have any courage than take concrete actions against indian Hindu terrorists groups like Shev sena,VHP, etc etc…and we can solve our problems better than you..therefore you should solve your internal problems and never talk about our country…

  8. Naeem Nawaz

    30/06/2015 at 2:38 pm

    Dear ALL, please make sure,whether it is YOU TUBE or any other company, Every one MUST follow the Rules,Regulations and Laws of Pakistan,,, if they want to work in Pakistan they should act as per our Laws and act immediately to remove all the things which are prohibited in Pakistan.We request to our present Govt. please DO NOT allow youtube or any other company in Pakistan who dont follow LAWS of Pakistan.
    It is the same rule as All other countries want to follow their rules,regulations in their respective countries.
    Please be Noted here, Pakistan is a very big,very strong, very powerful country. 6th biggest world power in population,18th world power economy, 200 million people,, our people are the same bad or good as other part of the world’s people…
    Indians are the most corrupt,most dishonest,most thieves,extremists,terrorist in the world.
    Recently,Indian terrorist PM accepted that they have spread terrorism in East Pakistan,they are still spreading terrorism in all their neighbourhood and especially in our Country.
    You bloody Indians cant fade the facts….you are just “”Munh mien raam raam baghal mein churra” but now ALL the world recognised your attitude.
    Your RAW is a terrorist organization which should be banned by UN.

    • LTPeace

      03/12/2015 at 10:20 pm

      Why bring India and Indians into this? This article has nothing to do with India. Time to stop obsessing too much with India or US and focus on what is going on in Pakistan.

      • Naeem Nawaz

        06/12/2015 at 4:11 pm

        Dear LTPeace…as you are using your fake name here, the same way you indians are fake from your birth….We are NOT talking against india but we are talking about the FACTS..and the fact is the India is a terrorist country and spreading its terrorism all over the world especially in her neighbours…India is the part of all terrorism in the world..and now the whole world knows your fakeness in every thing…India is a failed state because it can not take any strong action against Indian Hindu terrorists groups operating in all over in India…Like RSS,Shev sena,VHP etc etc…More than 100 separatists movements are there in Endia..Where is the Indian Govt ? where is the Indian army ?? Why the hell India a BANANA republic failed to take strong actions against Hindu terrorists who are killing innocent people in india…When you people will talk against your own Hindu terrorsits ? when you people will demand strong actions against Hindu terrorists in india ???

  9. Imran520

    01/08/2015 at 2:59 pm

    You can watch you tube videos from here

  10. Abbas Khan

    07/12/2015 at 1:32 pm

    Every one and all the companies MUST follow the Law of the Pakistan..otherwise Pakistan should not allow to work in the country…We 200 million people of Pakistan will stand together with our Govt. NO ONE & WHOEVER MUST obey the Rules,Regulations and Law of Pakistan… All international companies are trying to get the licenses to work and sell their products for such type of big market in Pakistan… in fact Pakistan is very strong,very big, and very powerful country of the world…Its people are very peaceful,very honest and very hard working…

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