“Pakistan to scan Google, Yahoo and other sites for blasphemous content”

According to a Friday revelation by a Pakistani official, the country will soon start monitoring seven bigwig sites – Google, Yahoo, YouTube, MSN, Amazon, Bing, and Hotmail –, as a part of its latest attempts to block anti-Islamic links and content. The sites will be scanned by officials, who will block the links that they consider offensive to Muslims.

In addition, seventeen lesser-known sites are also being blocked outright for alleged blasphemous content.

The latest move of monitoring sites for blasphemy comes after the ban that Pakistan imposed on access to Facebook, following the social networking site’s announcement of a “blasphemous” contest in which it asked participants to draw caricatures of the prophet Muhammad.

Revealing that both the Facebook ban and the Friday-announced move of monitoring sites were in response to court orders, Khurram Mehran, a spokesman for Pakistan Telecommunication Authority, said: “If any particular link with offensive content appears on these websites, the link shall be blocked immediately without disturbing the main website.”

Meanwhile, reacting to Pakistan’s Friday announcement, which Yahoo called disappointing, Google’s spokesman Scott Rubin said that the company will keep an eye on the manner in which Pakistan’s new policies affect access to its services – which include not only the world’s most popular search engine, but also the most extensively used video site, YouTube.

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