Last week Pakistan entered into fourth year of YouTube ban in the country as the access to video sharing website was blocked on September 17th, 2012 for hosting a video that had irked Muslim world.
YouTube website is officially banned in the country for last three years now and no one is allowed to use it officially. However, access to the website is possible for a portion of Pakistani users — directly and without any hacks — and any access to website isn’t considered a offense or no one was penalized during past three years for accessing YouTube website.
As hinted above, majority of Pakistani users are able to access the websites either without any hack or by just making small change in DNS servers and that’s all what is usually required to access the website.
Estimates suggest that more than 60% Pakistani internet users access YouTube videos through various means
Latest traffic data for YouTube that originates from Pakistan suggests that more than 25% of Pakistanis now access YouTube — without any proxy tools — when compared traffic during pre-ban period from June 2012.
This data excludes any numbers that access YouTube through proxy websites, VPNs or third-party replica websites that enables access to YouTube through APIs. If these numbers come into account then estimates suggest that more than 60% Pakistani internet users access YouTube videos through various means.
Year 2015 saw a significant growth in YouTube traffic from Pakistan which is consistently on the rise.
Let’s have a look at YouTube traffic data:
Source: Google Transparency Report
Industry sources say that recent increase in YouTube traffic from Pakistan is mainly because of increase in mobile broadband subscribers (3G and 4G users) as majority of telcos aren’t blocking YouTube and access to the website on mobile phones — especially through YouTube’s mobile apps — isn’t blocked.
Till December 2014, traffic to YouTube from Pakistan stood at around 5-7% as compared to July 2012. However, since then, i.e. from start of 2015, traffic has picked up and currently around 25% users access YouTube as compared to July 2012 data.
Industry sources suggest that majority of ISPs have relaxed the YouTube ban and they have unofficially or rather secretly allowed the access to YouTube website as seemingly no one complains or objects if YouTube is found accessible on their networks.
Similarly, some of the brands have started using YouTube for their official communication as people don’t bother much about this and they have somewhat accepted the availability of YouTube.
Here are couple of examples with active YouTube channels of two leading TV channels:
Recent increase in YouTube traffic from Pakistan is mainly because of increase in 3G users as majority of telcos aren’t blocking YouTube
PTCL, largest landline broadband provider, is however still stagnant on the matter as their deal with Daily Motion — a YouTube rival in Pakistan — is going fine. A source in PTCL recently told me that Daily Motion’s 27% global traffic comes through PTCL network, which gives us a good idea of how critical is the deal for both the players.
Despite all this and after three years of ban, Ministry of IT or Government isn’t moved and they are apparently no way near to lifting the ban from YouTube. We have discussed the reasons before, but just to recall you, I am re-producing my thoughts here:
- Since ban was imposed on Supreme Court’s directives, no one else can lift the ban.
- Fearing public reaction, Government is in no position to take a stand for YouTube and peruse the case in SC for getting the YouTube unbanned while blasphemous videos are still accessible.
- MoIT’s discussions with Google for localizing YouTube haven’t been successful as Google will never afford to get registered in Pakistan and then get trialed in Pakistani courts for a video that is uploaded on the website.
- We have heard that they MoIT is changing the law to satisfy Google and assuring them that they won’t be troubled after localizing YouTube but its been discussed for years now with no concrete outcome.
All in all, YouTube ban in Pakistan is going to stay but masses have started accessing it. Do let us know if you access YouTube or not:
For Further Reading: Dear PTA, Ban on YouTube in Pakistan Has Become Meaningless!