After YouTube, Pak targets more sites

NEW DELHI (TIP): It’s been a year since YouTube was banned in Pakistan last September. But that’s not a stray case of online censorship in the strife-torn country. Activists say that several other websites such as those highlighting human rights violation in Balochistan have also been blocked in Pakistan. “We have what you can best describe as ‘covert censorship’. A significant number of websites covering Balochistan human rights violations have reportedly been blocked. Similarly, a website on the genocide of Shias in Pakistan was blocked and later unblocked,” says Sana Saleem of activist group, Bolo Bhi. The YouTube block was prompted by an Islamophobic film, Innocence of Muslims, which had found its way to the video-sharing website. Authorities justified the online jamming saying that the film could cause widespread violence. But activists point out that authorities have resorted to online censorship to stop people from watching politically inconvenient videos as well. One of them is a three-year-old video of former Pakistani president Asif Ali Zardari pausing mid-speech at a public rally to say “Shut up!” to someone off-camera that prompted a YouTube block back then. Similarly, Dhinak dhinak, a song of the irreverent satirical band Beyghairat Brigade, has also been blocked on Vimeo, another video-sharing website.

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