Pakistani regulators have asked YouTube to immediately block all videos they consider "objectionable" from being accessed in the country, a demand criticised by rights campaigners.

Pakistan tells YouTube to block ‘objectionable’ content

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Pakistani regulators have asked YouTube to immediately block all videos they consider “objectionable” from being accessed in the country, a demand criticised by rights campaigners.

There are already fears about creeping censorship and muzzling of the press and activists in Muslim-majority Pakistan, with existing or proposed restrictions limiting free speech, usually in the name of Islam or national security.

In a statement Thursday, the Pakistan Telecommunication Authority (PTA) said it has asked YouTube to “immediately block vulgar, indecent, immoral, nude and hate speech content for viewing in Pakistan”.

The PTA said viewing such content has “extremely negative effects” and can foster “repugnant discord”.

YouTube did not immediately respond to a request for comment Friday, and a PTA spokesman declined to speak about the authority’s next step if the Google-owned platform does not comply.

In July, the PTA issued a final warning to Chinese-owned social media app TikTok, ordering it to filter any obscene content.

It also blocked the video-streaming app Bigo Live, though the ban was lifted after a few days once the platform agreed to moderate “immoral and indecent content”.

This is not the first time Pakistani authorities have targeted YouTube.

It was blocked in the Muslim-majority country in 2012 after a US-made film that negatively depicted the Prophet Mohammed and triggered violent protests across the Islamic world.

Access was restored in 2016 after YouTube launched a country-specific version ensuring the filtering of content deemed blasphemous.

Free speech campaigners were quick to criticise the latest PTA demand.

“The PTA does not make any effort to narrowly tailor its request or define what it means by terms such as ‘vulgar’ and ‘immoral’,” digital rights advocate Nighat Dad told AFP.

While countries can ask social media platforms to take down specific content in accordance with local law, YouTube does not always comply if the requests go against international norms and principles, she added.

“Social media companies such as YouTube have various human rights commitments and… have to uphold principles relating to the right to privacy, freedom of expression and right to access to information.”

In a recent attempt to tighten control, lawmakers in Punjab, Pakistan’s most populous province, passed a bill last month that seeks to put publishers in prison if they print or import material with “objectionable” content.

The Punjab governor has not yet signed it into law.

Agence France-Presse

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Risa seeks inquiry on PNP, PDEA’s ‘dramatic, traumatic misencounter’

Senator Risa Hontiveros is set to file a resolution seeking a Senate investigation, in aid of legislation, on Wednesday’s “misencounter” between the Philippine National Police and the Philippine Drug Enforcement Agency.

“We need to look into this further. It is very alarming that this is not the first time that such a ‘misencounter’ has happened,” the senator said.

“The National Capital Region Police Office (NCRPO) did admit that this has happened numerous times. These ‘misencounters’ should be rare, not common,” Hontiveros said.

The shooting incident occurred along Commonwealth Avenue in Quezon City, killing two policemen.

According to the Quezon City Police District Station 6, the QCPD’s District Special Operations Unit conducted a buy-bust operation near Ever Gotesco Mall. However, the DSOU officers were not aware that they were transacting with PDEA’s Special Enforcement Service (SES) agents.

“How could this have happened, at all, in the first place?” Hontiveros said.

“Why did the shootout take place for as long as an hour? Hindi ba pwedeng magkalinawan, even within the first few minutes, that a misencounter breaks out?” the senator added.

“There was a dramatic lack of coordination between the PNP and PDEA. Someone somewhere must have been grossly negligent. Ang laki ng intelligence funds nila pareho pero ganyan ang nangyari,” Hontiveros said.

She noted that in 2021, the PNP was given an intelligence fund of P856 million while PDEA was given P500 million.

Hontiveros said she hopes that the Board of Inquiry formed by the PNP will get to the bottom of what happened.

Lapid wants to punish sons, daughters who abandon elderly, sickly parents

Senator Lito Lapid has filed a bill that proposes to criminalize the act of “deprivation of support” to incapacitated parents.

Senate Bill 2061 “reinforces the duty of children to take care of their elderly, sickly or otherwise, incapacitated parents.”

The bill states that children shall, within their means and capacity, maintain support for their father or mother, who by virtue of being over sixty (60) years of age or suffering from a disease or disablity, are rendered incapable of supporting themselves.”

The bill also cites Article 195 of the Family Code which says parents and their children are obliged to give support to each other.

“This means that the obligation to support cuts both ways— parents must support their children, especially during the years of their minority and dependency; on the other hand, children who are already capable must take care of their elderly, disease or disability-stricken parents who are in need,” Lapid said.

Unfortunately, abuse against an elderly, disabled, or otherwise incapacitated parent, which includes physical, sexual, psychological, emotional and financial abuse, abandonment, neglect and serious loss of dignity and respect, has become an “invisible issue” in the Philippines, according to Commission on Human Rights.

“Nakakalungkot isipin na ang mga magulang na nagpakapagod noong panahong malakas pa sila para masuportahan ang kanilang mga anak, ay kaya na lamang tiisin at abandunahin sa panahong matanda na sila,” Lapid said.

Any person, who despite having the capacity, but neglects to maintain support to his or her parent shall be liable for deprivation of support to parent and shall be punishable by imprisonment of arresto menor as the minimum and arresto mayor as the maximum.

There are also respective fines of not less than P200,000 but not more than P500,000, at the discretion of the court.

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