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Sat Feb 28 07:22:47 SAST 2015

Pakistan provisionally unblocks YouTube

Sapa-AFP | 29 December, 2012 12:53

Pakistan provisionally unblocked access to the popular video-sharing website YouTube on Saturday after taking measures to filter blasphemous material and pornography, officials say.

Pakistani Prime Minister Raja Pervez Ashraf in September ordered the blocking of YouTube after the US-based website refused to heed the government's call to remove a controversial anti-Islam video.

The Pakistan Telecommunication Authority (PTA) on Saturday notified all Internet companies to "immediately unblock/restore complete YouTube website provisionally till further orders".

Weeks of protests in Pakistan over the crudely made "Innocence of Muslims" film saw more than 20 people killed and caused serious damage in major cities.

Pakistan Interior Minister Rehman Malik said on Twitter that the decision to allow access was due to huge public demand, and that the telecom regulator would install a firewall to maintain a block on unseemly content.

"There was a great demand to unblock YouTube from all sections of society... expect the notification today," Malik said.

"PTA is finalising negotiations for acquiring a powerful firewall software to totally block pornographic and blasphemous material," he added.

The Internet Service Providers Association of Pakistan (ISPAK) confirmed they have also received the notification and welcomed the announcement.

ISPAK Convener Wahajus Siraj told AFP that when the ban first came into force, Internet video traffic in Pakistan plummeted by up to 30 percent.

"It is a good development because many people, especially students and institutions, were using YouTube for education, and were facing difficulties as alternate websites were not as good," he said.

According to PTA there are 2.1 million Internet subscribers in Pakistan.

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