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YouTube Is Back in Action in Pakistan

As of Monday, Internet users in Pakistan now have access to YouTube after a ban on the website since 2012, Reuters reports. Joining the lengthy list of countries that now have local versions of the video-sharing website, Pakistan will allow access to content, provided that it is deemed non-offensive.

In the event of “offensive” video posts, Google’s policy would be to conduct a review to determine if the content is either illegal in the country or in violation of the site’s terms, before deciding to remove it. On the government end, The Pakistan Telecommunication Authority has the ability to request the blocking of videos which they don’t approve of. These requests would have to be publicly reported and, with some exceptions, are not automatically granted by Google.

YouTube was blocked in Pakistan in 2012 after it refused to remove a video clip from the amateur film Innocence of Muslims, citing the anti-Islam content which dominated the plot. The film ended up igniting protests throughout several largely Muslim countries, many of the reactions violent, resulting in dozens of deaths. Of note, YouTube had already blocked the video in a handful of countries—first in Egypt and soon after Indonesia, Malaysia, and India; but not Pakistan.

So it seems to come down to a case-by-case decision, partially influenced by local laws, collateral damage, and, if possible, corporate policy. Thailand and Turkey are good examples of this complexity, having seen the most frequent flip flops in terms of YouTube access during the past decade. This has been due to a handful of incidents over the years where highly sensitive cultural and/or political content has been uploaded. One of the more prominent cases in Thailand was in 2007 when a video clip aimed at offending the country’s king was posted on YouTube.

North Korea, China, Turkey, and Iran are the most well-known countries that are currently enforcing a block on YouTube (as well as Facebook and Twitter). For a more complete rundown of nations and their varying policies on blocking YouTube, check out this video: