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Pakistan's National Assembly Unanimously Agrees YouTube Ban Should Be Lifted

BY Jessica McKenzie | Friday, May 9 2014

Screenshot from the Hugs for YouTube! video

Pakistanis who want unfettered access to YouTube caught a glimpse of the light at the end of the tunnel this week when a resolution to lift the ban passed unanimously in the National Assembly. At the end of April Pakistan's Senate Human Rights Committee also unanimously passed a resolution to lift the ban.

Moreover, the Information Technology Minister Anusha Rehman—who has repeatedly missed court dates and slipped out of National Assembly meetings to avoid the issue—finally attended a court-ordered meeting with Bytes For All, the Internet rights group that filed a lawsuit to lift the ban.

Although the outcome of that meeting was positive, Sana Saleem, a director of the nonprofit group Bolo Bhi, says that Rehman disappeared and reappeared during the National Assembly vote on the ban.

Since assuming the position of Information Technology Minister, Rehman has done a complete 180 on this issue. Saleem has previously told techPresident how “shocked” she and her colleagues were by this turnaround.

A Senate Public Hearing on Internet censorship and YouTube is scheduled to take place next week, and will address larger issues of censorship and surveillance that go beyond YouTube.

“These are all really important developments,” Saleem wrote in an email to techPresident, “however, despite the resolutions the government has yet to issue a simple order to lift the ban. It is however a significant development that policy makers across the board have come forward to acknowledge that right to information on the internet shouldn't be curbed.”

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