Censorship of YouTube

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Censorship of YouTube, the third-most visited website in the world in 2010, 2011, and 2012 according to Alexa Internet,[1] has and continues to occur in many countries throughout the world.

General[edit]

YouTube blocking occurs for a variety of reasons including:[2]

  • limiting public exposure to content that may ignite social or political unrest;
  • preventing criticism of a ruler, government, government officials, religion, or religious leaders;
  • violations of national laws, including:
  • preventing access to videos judged to be inappropriate for youth;
  • reducing distractions at work or school; and
  • reducing the amount of network bandwidth used.

In some countries YouTube is completely blocked, either through a long term standing ban or for more limited periods of time such as during periods of unrest, the run-up to an election, or in response to upcoming political anniversaries. In other countries access to the website as a whole remains open, but access to specific videos is blocked. In cases where the entire site is banned due to one particular video, YouTube will often agree to remove or limit access to that video in order to restore service.[2]

As of September 2012, countries with standing national bans on YouTube include China, Iran, Pakistan, and Turkmenistan. YouTube is also mostly blocked in Germany from YouTube's side due to disputes between GEMA and YouTube over royalties.

YouTube's Terms of Service prohibit the posting of videos which violate copyrights or depict pornography, illegal acts, gratuitous violence, or hate speech.[3] User-posted videos that violate such terms may be removed and replaced with a message stating: "This video is no longer available because its content violated YouTube's Terms of Service".

Businesses, schools, government agencies, and other private institutions often block social media sites, including YouTube, due to bandwidth limitations and the site’s inevitable potential for distraction.[2]

Censorship history by country[edit]

 Afghanistan[edit]

On 12 September 2012 YouTube was blocked in Afghanistan in response to the controversial film about the Prophet Muhammad, Innocence of Muslims, which is considered blasphemous by Muslims.[4] On 1 December 2012, YouTube was unblocked in Afghanistan.[5]

 Armenia[edit]

Following the disputed February 2008 presidential elections, the Armenian Government blocked Internet users access to YouTube for about a month. The Armenian opposition had used the website to publicize video of police and military brutality carried out against anti-government protestors.[6][7]

 Bangladesh[edit]

In March 2009, YouTube was blocked in Bangladesh after a recording of a meeting between the prime minister and army officers was posted revealing anger by the military on how the government was handling a mutiny by border guards in Dhaka.[8] The block was lifted on 21 March.[9]

On 17 September 2012, YouTube was banned for the second time following the controversies regarding the promotional videos for Innocence of Muslims.[10]

On 5 June 2013, the YouTube ban has been lifted by the Bangladesh Telecom Regulatory.[11]

 Brazil[edit]

YouTube was sued by Brazilian model and MTV VJ Daniella Cicarelli, (the ex-fiancée of footballer Ronaldo) and her boyfriend on the grounds that the site makes available video footage made by a paparazzo in which she and her boyfriend are having sex on a Spanish beach. The video was not explicit. The lawsuit asked that YouTube be blocked in Brazil until all copies of the video are removed. On Saturday, 6 January 2007, a legal injunction ordered that filters be put in place to prevent users in Brazil from accessing the website.[12]

The effectiveness of the measure was questioned, since the video is available not only on YouTube, but also on other sites as part of an Internet phenomenon. On Tuesday, 9 January 2007, the same court overturned its previous decision, allowing the filters to be removed. The video footage itself remained banned and was to be removed from the website.[13]

And in June 2007, a judge ordered Cicarelli and her boyfriend to pay all court and lawyer costs, as well as R$10,000 (roughly US$5,000) to the three defendants, YouTube, Globo, and IG, citing a lack of good faith in pushing the privacy case when their actions took place in public.[14]

 China[edit]

YouTube was first blocked in the People's Republic of China for several months from 15 October 2007[15] to 22 March 2008.[16]

It was blocked again from 24 March 2009, although a Foreign Ministry spokesperson would not confirm nor deny whether YouTube had been blocked.[17] Since then, YouTube is not accessible from China.[18]

 Germany[edit]

The blocking of YouTube videos in Germany is part of an ongoing dispute between the video sharing platform YouTube and the Gesellschaft für musikalische Aufführungs- und mechanische Vervielfältigungsrechte, or GEMA, a performance rights organisation in Germany.

According to a German court in Hamburg, Google's subsidiary YouTube can be held liable for damages when it hosts copyrighted videos without the copyright holder's permission.[19] As a result, music videos for major label artists on YouTube, as well as many videos containing background music, have been unavailable in Germany since the end of March 2009 after the previous agreement had expired and negotiations for a new license agreement were stopped.

 Indonesia[edit]

On 1 April 2008, Indonesian information minister, Muhammad Nuh, wrote to YouTube asking them to remove a controversial Dutch film, Fitna, made by Dutch right-wing politician, Geert Wilders. The government allowed two days for the removal of the video or YouTube would be blocked. On 4 April, Nuh asked all Internet service providers to block access to YouTube.[20][21] On 5 April, YouTube was blocked for testing by one ISP.[22] Finally, on 8 April YouTube, along with MySpace, Metacafe, RapidShare, Multiply, Liveleak, and Fitna's official site, were blocked in Indonesia.[23] YouTube's ban was lifted on 10 April.[24] There may still have been some blocking in May 2008 according to local inhabitants.

 Iran[edit]

On 3 December 2006, Iran blocked YouTube, along with several other sites, after declaring them "immoral". The YouTube ban came after a video was posted online that appears to show an Iranian soap opera star having sex.[25] The block was later lifted and then reinstated after the 2009 Iranian presidential election.[26] In 2012, Iran reblocked YouTube, along with Google after the controversial film Innocence of Muslims' trailer was released on YouTube.[27]

 Libya[edit]

On 24 January 2010, Libya permanently blocked YouTube after it featured videos of demonstrations in the Libyan city of Benghazi by families of detainees who were killed in Abu Salim prison in 1996, as well as videos of family members of Libyan leader Muammar al-Gaddafi at parties. The ban was condemned by Human Rights Watch.[28] In November 2011, after the Libyan civil war, YouTube was once again allowed in Libya.[29]

 Malaysia[edit]

In May 2013, several YouTube videos critical of the government of Malaysia were blocked despite promises by the Malaysian Government not to censor the internet. Analysis of the network traffic shows that the ISP were scanning the headers of the users and actively blocking requests to the YouTube video according to the video key.[30][31]

 Morocco[edit]

On 25 May 2007, the state-owned Maroc Telecom blocked all access to YouTube.[32] There were no reasons given as to why YouTube was blocked, but speculations are that it might have something to do with some posted pro-separatist group Polisario clips (Polisario being the Western Sahara independence movement) or because of some videos criticizing King Mohammed VI. The government ban did not concern the other two private Internet providers, Wana and Méditel. YouTube became accessible again on 30 May 2007, after Maroc Telecom unofficially announced that the denied access to the website was a mere "technical glitch".[33]

 Pakistan[edit]

On 22 February 2008, YouTube was blocked in Pakistan following a decision taken by the Pakistan Telecommunication Authority because of the number of "non-Islamic objectionable videos."[34] One report specifically named Fitna, a controversial Dutch film, as the basis for the block.[35] Pakistan, an Islamic republic, ordered its ISPs to block access to YouTube "for containing blasphemous web content/movies."[36] Blasphemy law in Pakistan calls for life imprisonment or death. This followed increasing unrest in Pakistan by over the reprinting of the Jyllands-Posten Muhammad cartoons which depict satirical criticism of Islam.[36] Router misconfiguration by one Pakistani ISP on 24 February 2008 effectively blocked YouTube access worldwide for several hours.[37] On 26 February 2008, the ban was lifted after the website had removed the objectionable content from its servers at the request of the government.[38]

It has been suggested by some Pakistani web sites, blogs, and by electoral process watchdog groups that the block was imposed largely to distract viewers from videos alleging vote-rigging by the ruling MQM party in the February 2008 general elections.[34][39] Allegations of suppressing vote-rigging videos by the Musharraf administration were also leveled by Pakistani bloggers, newspapers, media, and Pakistani anti-Musharraf opposition parties.[40][41]

On 20 May 2010, on Everybody Draw Mohammed Day Pakistan again blocked the website in a bid to contain "blasphemous" material.[42] The ban was lifted on 27 May 2010, after the website removed the objectionable content from its servers at the request of the government. However, individual videos deemed offensive to Muslims that are posted on YouTube will continue to be blocked.[43][44]

On 17 September 2012, the Pakistan Telecommunication Authority (PTA) ordered access to YouTube blocked, after the website did not remove the trailer of Sam Bacile's Innocence of Muslims, a film insulting Islam and eventually resulting in a ban due to YouTube's non compliance.[45]

In 2013 also, the Pakistan Telecommunication Authority (PTA) ordered access to YouTube blocked, after the website did not remove the trailer of Sam Bacile's Innocence of Muslims, a film insulting Islam and eventually resulting in a ban due to YouTube's non compliance.[45]

Bytes for All, a Pakistani non-profit organization, filed a constitutional challenge to the ban through their counsel Yasser Latif Hamdani in the Lahore High Court. This is an ongoing case and is commonly known as the YouTube case.[46]

On 11 December 2013, it was announced by the Pakistan Telecommunication Authority that they have convinced Google's management to offer a local "youtube.com.pk" version to Pakistan, as it will be easy for the local authorities to remove "objectionable" material from a local version as compared to the global version of YouTube. However, it will be offered only after the Pakistani government fulfills some of the undisclosed requirements.[47]

 Russia[edit]

In 2008, during the Russia-Georgia conflict, a video from The Daily Show with Jon Stewart making fun of the Georgian and US presidents was removed by YouTube.[citation needed]

The video claiming responsibility for the 2010 Moscow Metro bombings, which claimed 800,000 viewers in four days, was removed, along with all videos of Doku Umarov. Additionally, it turned out that over 300 videos from the Kavkaz Center were removed for having "inappropriate content." Russia was blamed for having pressured YouTube to take such measures.[48]

On 28 July 2010, a court in the city of Komsomolsk-on-Amur ordered a local ISP to block access to youtube.com, web.archive.org, and several other websites offering books for downloads, citing extremist materials as the reason.[49] The order was not enforced and was later reversed.[50][51]

 Syria[edit]

YouTube was blocked in Syria until early in 2011, when blocking was relaxed briefly before being reinstated following the start of the Syrian civil war in March 2011.[52]

 Sudan[edit]

The Sudanese authorities blocked YouTube on 21 April 2010, following the recent presidential elections, and also blocked YouTube's owner Google. The block was in response to a YouTube video showing National Electoral Commission workers in official uniforms and a child in the Hamashkoreib region filling out voting strips and putting them into ballot boxes, with one of them expressing relief that the voting period had been extended for them to finish their work. Sudan had previously blocked YouTube temporarily in 2008 for unknown reasons.[53]

On 17 September 2012, YouTube was banned again by National Telecommunication Corporation for not removing Sam Bacile's Innocence of Muslims, a film insulting Islam.

 Tajikistan[edit]

Tajikistan has recently blocked YouTube for unknown reasons.

 Thailand[edit]

In 2006, Thailand blocked access to YouTube for users with Thai IP addresses. Thai authorities identified 20 offensive videos and demanded that Google remove them before it would allow unblocking of all YouTube content.[54]

During the week of 8 March 2007, YouTube was blocked in Thailand.[55] Many bloggers believed the reason for the blocking was a posted video of former Prime Minister Thaksin Shinawatra's speech on CNN. The government did not confirm or provide reasons for the ban. YouTube became accessible again on 10 March 2007.

On the night of 3 April 2007, YouTube was again blocked in Thailand.[56] The government cited a video on the site that it called "insulting" to King Bhumibol Adulyadej.[57][58] However, the Ministry of Information and Communication Technology claimed that it would unblock YouTube in a few days, after websites containing references to this video are blocked instead of the entire website.[59][60] Communications Minister Sitthichai Pokai-udom said, "When they decide to withdraw the clip, we will withdraw the ban."[61] Shortly after this incident the Internet technology blog Mashable was blocked from Thailand over the reporting of the YouTube clips in question.[62] YouTube was unblocked on 30 August 2007, after YouTube reportedly agreed to block videos deemed offensive by Thai authorities.[63]

On 21 September 2007, Thai authorities announced they were seeking a court order to block videos that had recently appeared on YouTube accusing Privy Council president Prem Tinsulanonda of attempting to manipulate the royal succession to make himself Thailand's king.[64]

 Tunisia[edit]

YouTube has been blocked in Tunisia since at least 2 November 2007, with a forged HTTP 404 error message appearing instead.[65] The reasons for such an action are not immediately known, and no explanations have been given. YouTube is the second video site to display such messages. The Wikipedia entry for Tunisia in English is inaccessible from within the country since 2010. The section contains well referenced accusations against the Tunisian government which it describes as an authoritarian regime. By contrast the French Wikipedia entry is allowed. Attempts to edit in information which is critical of the regime are quickly taken out by pro-regime web-masters in a seemingly organised manner. On 31 January 2011, YouTube became unblocked in Tunisia due to a promise made by the president earlier that evening. This action was followed by several other changes made concerning freedom of expression.[citation needed]

 Turkey[edit]

This error message was shown when attempting to access YouTube in Turkey between 5 May 2008 to 30 October 2010.

Turkish courts have ordered blocks on access to the YouTube website.[66] This first occurred when Türk Telekom blocked the site in compliance with decision 2007/384 issued by the Istanbul 1st Criminal Court of Peace (Sulh Ceza Mahkeme) on 6 March 2007. The court decision was based on videos insulting Mustafa Kemal Atatürk in an escalation of what the Turkish media referred to as a "virtual war" of insults between Greek, Armenian and Turkish YouTube members.[54][67][68][69] YouTube was sued for "insulting Turkishness"[70] and access to the site was suspended pending the removal of the video. YouTube lawyers sent proof of the video's removal to the Istanbul public prosecutor and access was restored on 9 March 2007.[71] However, other videos similarly deemed insulting were repeatedly posted, and several staggered bans followed, issued by different courts:

  • the Sivas 2nd Criminal Court of Peace on 18 September 2007 and again (by decision 2008/11) on 16 January 2008;
  • the Ankara 12th Criminal Court of Peace on 17 January 2008 (decision 2008/55);[72]
  • the Ankara 1st Criminal Court of Peace on 12 March 2008 (decision 2008/251);
  • the Ankara 11th Criminal Court of Peace on 24 April 2008 (decision 2008/468).
  • the Ankara 5th Criminal Court of Peace on 30 April 2008 (decision 2008/599);
  • again, the Ankara 1st Criminal Court of Peace on 5 May 2008 (decision 2008/402);
  • again, the Ankara 11th Criminal Court of Peace on 6 June 2008 (decision 2008/624).
  • again, based on "administrative measures" without court order following corruption scandal, relating several govermental officials including Prime Minister Erdogan on 27 March 2014

The block in accordance with court decision 2008/468 of the Ankara 11th Criminal Court of Peace issued on 24 April 2008, which cited that YouTube had not acquired a certificate of authorisation in Turkey, was not implemented by Türk Telekom until 5 May 2008.

Although YouTube was officially banned in Turkey, the website was still accessible by modifying connection parameters to use alternative DNS servers, and it was the eighth most popular website in Turkey according to Alexa records.[73] Responding to criticisms of the courts' bans, in November 2008 the Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdoğan stated "I do access the site. Go ahead and do the same." [74]

In June 2010, Turkey's president Abdullah Gül used his Twitter account to express disapproval of the country's blocking of YouTube, which also affected access from Turkey to many Google services. Gül said he had instructed officials to find legal ways of allowing access.[75]

Turkey lifted the ban on 30 October 2010.[76] In November 2010, a video of the Turkish politician Deniz Baykal caused the site to be blocked again briefly, and the site was threatened with a new shutdown if it did not remove the video.[77][78]

On 27 March 2014, Turkey banned YouTube again. This time, they did so mere hours after a video was posted there claiming to depict Turkey's foreign minister, spy chief and a top general discussing scenarios that could lead to their country's military attacking jihadist militants in Syria.[79] The ban was lifted again on 9 April 2014.

 Turkmenistan[edit]

On 25 December 2009, for unknown reasons, YouTube was blocked in Turkmenistan by the only ISP, Turkmentelecom. Other websites, such as LiveJournal were also blocked.[80]

 United Arab Emirates[edit]

The UAE's telecom regulatory authority blocked YouTube in August 2006. This ban was later lifted, and YouTube is now available all across the United Arab Emirates, but with the Etisalat ISP in the UAE citing "presence of adult content on the website which is clearly against the religious, cultural, political and moral values of the UAE".[81]

 United States[edit]

Starting in 2007 the US Department of Defense blocked YouTube (as well as MySpace and other large social networking sites) on its worldwide network, citing bandwidth limitations and operational risks as justifications for the restrictions.[2][82]

Brigham Young University, a private university run by the LDS Church in Provo, Utah blocked YouTube access in the past, citing bandwidth and inappropriate content concerns, but the policy was changed in June 2009.[83]

In 2010 YouTube removed videos containing Anwar al-Awlaki sermons following requests by US Congressman Anthony Weiner and others. The sermons were treated as hate speech and an incitement to murder.[84]

In 2011 a local US law enforcement agency[who?] asked for the removal of 1,400 harassment videos, which YouTube refused.[85]

{flag/taimoria}[edit]

In February 2009, Taimoria blocked youtube for making a video about their child star Rodney. The video contained photoshopped rape and had an animation of her getting killed. When she became a princess , a video was uploaded of her getting raped while getting killed in a three some, and it was photoshopped. So they blocked youtube again in 2012. Rodney demanded the ban would be lifted on her birthday 2013. If they ever did something again like that, youtube would've been sued.

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External links[edit]