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Pakistan lifts YouTube ban after three-year suspension

Pakistan has unblocked access to YouTube after Google launched a local version of the video sharing platform. The site had been suspended for hosting "blasphemous" content.

YouTube is once again available in Pakistan, officials announced on Monday. The move came after Google - which owns the video-sharing site - launched a region-specific version which filters out

content the government deems offensive.

"Pakistan Telecommunication Authority (PTA) Monday directed the Internet Service Providers (ISPs) to unblock YouTube with immediate effect," a senior government official told news agency AFP.

"The ban has been lifted after Google launched a country-specific version in which it would be possible to block blasphemous and offensive content," the official said.

Under the new arrangement, the PTA may now directly appeal to YouTube to remove content that it deems "offensive."

"Google has provided an online web process through which requests for blocking access of the offending material can be made by PTA to Google directly and Google/YouTube will accordingly restrict access to the said offending material for users within Pakistan," Pakistan's Ministry of Information Technology and Telecom said in a statement.

Pakistan, Youtube on a Smartphone

A user in Pakistan browses Youtube on his mobile phone

Blocked for blasphemy

The Pakistani Supreme Court ordered a ban on YouTube in 2012

after the short movie, the "Innocence of Muslims," was uploaded.

The US-made film portrayed the Prophet Mohammed as a rowdy deviant, triggering violent protests across the Muslim world. In Pakistan, 20 people died during demonstrations against the film.

As Internet access spreads

throughout the majority-Muslim country, Pakistan has blocked thousands of websites which contain offensive or undesirable content over the last few years. Activists have criticized these blocks, saying that the government often decides to shut down critical or liberal voices.

rs/kms (AFP, dpa, Reuters)

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