Friday, June 25, 2010

Pakistan Scans Google, Other Sites for Blasphemy

Via Yahoo! News (AP) -

Pakistan will monitor seven major websites, including Google and Yahoo, to block anti-Islamic links and content, an official said Friday. Seventeen lesser-known sites are being blocked outright for alleged blasphemous material.

The moves follow Pakistan's temporary ban imposed on Facebook in May that drew both praise and condemnation in a country that has long struggled to figure out how strict a version of Islam it should follow.

Both the Facebook ban and the move announced Friday were in response to court orders. The sites to be monitored include Yahoo Inc., Google Inc. and its YouTube service, Inc. and MSN, Hotmail and Bing from Microsoft Corp., said Pakistan Telecommunication Authority spokesman Khurram Mehran.

"If any particular link with offensive content appears on these websites, the (link) shall be blocked immediately without disturbing the main website," Mehran said.

Google spokesman Scott Rubin said the company intends to monitor how Pakistan's new policies affect access to its services, which include the world's most popular search engine and the most widely watched video site, YouTube.

"Google and YouTube are platforms for free expression, and we try to allow as much ... content as possible on our services and still ensure that we enforce our policies," Rubin said.

Yahoo called Pakistan's actions disappointing. The company is "founded on the principle that access to information can improve people's lives," Yahoo spokeswoman Amber Allman said.

Microsoft and Amazon didn't immediately respond to requests for comment.

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