ISLAMABAD: Three days after the Bahawalpur Bench of the Lahore High Court ordered the government to block YouTube and eight other sites, the Ministry of Information Technology directed the Pakistan Telecommunication Authority to monitor the Google search engine and six other major websites for containing material deemed offensive.
“Google, YouTube, Yahoo, Amazon, Bing, MSN and Hotmail will be monitored with relation to anti-Islamic contents,” Khurram Mehran, a spokesman for the PTA, told Reuters news agency on Friday.The ministry also blocked at least 17 links for containing ‘blasphemous material’.
However, an official of the ministry conceded that it was impossible to monitor search engines like Google.
“There is no way to check which links and sites are accessed by users. Nonetheless, we are doing our best,” the official told Dawn. “Blocking search engines may be disastrous and will draw a lot of criticism,” he added.
He said that this was what “we will tell the court when representatives from MoIT and PTA appear on June 28 — we have done our best to implement orders without disrupting major online websites”, he said.
A PTA official expressed the same opinion and said the authority would respond to complaints from users about objectionable material posted online. If such complaints came through, the PTA would take necessary action.
This meant that the authority would try to maintain a balance between the court orders and what was practically possible and socially acceptable.
An official conceded that continuous ‘interference’ could affect businesses and discourage online commercial activities.
He said the measures so far taken made sense against the backdrop of irritation among people over the recent blocking of the popular social networking site Facebook for a short period.