Pakistan to monitor Google, others for blasphemy
Pakistani authorities on Friday put seven major websites, including
Google and YouTube, under watch for containing material deemed offensive to Muslims, officials
The Ministry of Information Technology is also blocking at least 17 links on Youtube and other
websites for showing "blasphemous material."
"YouTube, Yahoo, Amazon, Bing, MSN, Hotmail and Google will be monitored with relation to anti-
Islamic contents," said Khurram Mehran, spokesman for the Pakistan Telecommunication
The companies that own the affected sites are Google Inc., Microsoft, Yahoo and Amazon.com
But another official also made it clear the government had no intention of blocking major websites
as they were important sources of education.
The move to impose monitoring was undertaken three days after a court in the eastern city of
Bahawalpur ordered the government to block YouTube and eight other sites in response to a
petition arguing they were showing material "against the fundamental principles of Islam.
The next hearing of the case is fixed for Monday. It is second time in a month that Pakistan has
imposed such restrictions on internet.
Last month, authorities acting on a court decision blocked social network Facebook, YouTube and
others sites for almost two weeks amid anger over a page that encouraged users to post images
of the Prophet Mohammad.
BLASPHEMY A SENSITIVE ISSUE
Any representation of the Prophet Mohammad is deemed un-Islamic and blasphemous by
Muslims, who constitute the overwhelming majority in Pakistan.
Blasphemy is a very sensitive issue in Pakistan. Five people were killed in protests in 2006 over
publication of cartoons deemed blasphemous by Muslims in Danish newspapers a year earlier.
However, Latif Khosa, adviser to the prime minister on information technology, said the
government had already been monitoring websites for any material prejudicial to "security of
Pakistan and Islamic injunctions."
Khosa said the government could not block major search engines and websites as they were
major sources of information and education.
"The constitution of Pakistan ensures access to knowledge, information and education to all
citizens of Pakistan. These are the basic rights of the people of Pakistan and Internet is a major
source of it," Khosa told Reuters.
Courts cannot violate those rights nor can any law be put in place to do so, he said.
"Many students are calling us and saying that they could not complete their higher studies if any
step is taken to block these search engines," Khosa said.