YouTube is considered as one of the most powerful video sharing websites on the internet. Over the past 9 years after the creation of this platform, video sharing and free flow of knowledge has excelled to a new level. People from various fields of life use this platform to promote their work and reach out to people around the world.
Pakistan has suffered a lot from internet censorship over the last few years. On occasions, either Facebook was banned or twitter, a list of supposedly obscene words were banned on mobile texts (the list even included words like Jesus). Moreover, websites that spoke for the rights of minorities or other over looked groups were also banned in Pakistan in the name of National interest. Recent ban which has been counted as the longest ban in the history of Pakistan is the YouTube ban.
After the release of Innocence of Muslims, a controversial anti-Islamic movie “trailer”, YouTube was banned in many countries including Pakistan in September, 2012. While other countries later on opened video sharing website but ban in Pakistan continued. In February 2014, US court also gave a verdict to put down controversial material from YouTube.
Before the ban, various people used this medium as a career launch pad, particularly the Pakistani musicians. Many underground bands launched their music albums, singles and videos using this platform. Bands like Fortitude, 9 Zero, Akaash and other singers including Adil Omar, Asad Ali and many more used this platform and gained fame. But after the ban imposed on YouTube, these people shifted to other platforms but they were not as user-friendly and effective as YouTube. YouTube has a larger target audience but in Pakistan they are forced to deter from it.
As Google has managed to establish itself as a brand name synonymous to online search, similarly YouTube, being a Google service is unmatchable with other video sharing platforms. Immensely popular shows like Coke Studio and Nescafe Basement which have audience all around the world are also suffering because of this ban. Such shows showcase artists from all parts of the world and Pakistani community remains deprived to have a musical cultural experience.
Student who have been living in remote areas or who cannot attend universities on regular basis because of security or any other reason are restricted in their freedom to have access to online educational facilities. Distant learning programs, within and outside Pakistan, effectively used YouTube to disseminate their lectures to masses. Similarly women, residing in areas where they are not allowed to step outside their homes could access various information resources via YouTube. But now they all are denied their access to free information.
These bans are creating confusions and frustrations in people of Pakistan. Many people are accessing YouTube via proxies which routes ones IP to a country outside Pakistan. Even a kid knows how to get access to YouTube but Government of Pakistan appears oblivious of the fact and carries on with the propaganda of National interest. Proxy servers are not only restrict the bandwidth of the users but also expose their systems to countless virus threats and malware.