Lahore, 19th November 2014: The 21st hearing of the Internet Freedom Case (aka YouTube case) was held at the Lahore high Court today. The hearing was presided over by Honorable Justice Mansoor Ali Shah along with Honorable Justice Ayesha Malik. Bytes for All appeared in the Lahore High Court again seeking remedies on the prayers other than Youtube unblocking in the country, while Supreme Court is reviewing its orders on YouTube ban. These prayers include stopping arbitrary censorship in the cyberspace and rampant Kill Switch and Network Disconnections in Pakistan.
Bytes for All counsel briefed the honorable judges on the updates in light of their directives to the petitioner given on 13th May 2014. It was informed that the Petitioner had written a detailed letter to the Lordship Nasir-ul-Mulk, Honorable Chief Justice of Pakistan requesting their intervention in the matter. The letter was also copied to the Human Rights Cell at the Supreme Court of Pakistan, however, no response has been received so far.
At this point, Justice Mansoor Ali Shah maintained to first resolve the YouTube banning case and then to proceed to look at other prayers of the petitioner.
Upon a question from the Court, PTA representative informed that PTA has no objection on opening the YouTube and that they can block individual URL, which is problematic for the authorities. The position taken by PTA at this hearing is different from the position earlier. The Honorable Justice asked for confirmation by the PTA again and they confirmed this. However, the Deputy Attorney General quickly intervened and said that as per experts, specific URL blocking was not possible.
Following this, the justices conferred and read the SC order together. After a brief consultation amongst the Justices, Justice Mansoor Ali Shah ordered for senior PTA officials to appear in the court tomorrow morning to resolve YouTube banning issue.
Bytes for All is truly encouraged by the interest of Honorable Justice Mansoor Ali Shah in finding a solution to the YouTube ban. The next hearing of this case is due tomorrow on 20th November 2014 at the Lahore High Court.
Bytes for All, Pakistan with technical support from Media Legal Defense Initiative is fighting for Net Freedoms and lifting the YouTube ban through its petition in Lahore High Court (Bytes for All v. Federation of Pakistan - 958/2013). This case is under Court’s hearing since January 2013.
We are excitingly looking forward to the positive developments in the case tomorrow.
About Bytes for All, Pakistan
Bytes for All (B4A), Pakistan is a human rights organization and a network of Information and Communication Technology (ICT) professionals and practitioners. It experiments and organizes debate on the relevance of ICTs for sustainable development and strengthening social justice movements in the country. Its mission is “ICTs for development, democracy and social justice”. www.bytesforall.pk
For more information:
Bytes for All, Pakistan
Tel. +92 51 2110494-9