There have been an increasing number of internet censorship instances in the last couple of years including China blocking access to news sites during the Beijing Olympics to that terrible opponent of free-speech, Australia. Now Pakistan is on the case, blocking YouTube for what it calls "growing sacrilegious content" the BBC has written.
This is not the first website to be blocked in Pakistan. Facebook was previously blocked due to...
"a row over a competition involving caricatures of Prophet Muhammad"
The Pakistani government has issued instructions to all the countries Internet service providers, instructing them to block access to the popular video website with immediate effect.
It is also being reported that some pages on Wikipedia are also being blocked.
Internet censorship, especially in democratic countries such as Australia and Pakistan will inevitably come under increasing scrutiny in the coming years after the United Nations' recent announcement that unrestricted Internet access should be considered a "basic human right". The UN has yet to issue a statement, though we can assume that private discussions may well be taking place between Pakistani and UN officials in New York or Geneva.
So what does this mean for freedom on speech and freedom of expression? I don't believe anybody should get too concerned about countries such as Australia and Pakistan censoring certain websites over religious or adult content sensibilities at the moment. The Internet is such a vast, and completely free (some would even say anarchistic) wonderland, that all countries around the world, including the US and western Europe, are still trying to figure out how this all fits in with their own privacy, copyright and defamation laws.
The time is coming though for the United Nations to set out what is and is not acceptable on the Internet. This will give countries guidelines for blocking content that other people will consider perfectly acceptable.
Ghacks is a technology news blog that was founded in 2005 by Martin Brinkmann. It has since then become one of the most popular tech news sites on the Internet with five authors and regular contributions from freelance writers.