THE SUPREME Court of Pakistan has recently been moved praying it to take a suo moto notice of the illegal activities of Google – a search engine in Pakistan – and its subsidiary – YouTube - for uploading a blasphemous video that has sparked violence across the Muslim world particularly in Pakistan.
The petitioner, Dr. Kamil Tarar, an IT expert, has submitted that Google does not have any agreement or legal permission from Pakistan for conducting business operations here, while it earns six million dollars per annum and does not pay a single penny in taxes to the already cash-strapped government.
By using the word Pakistan in the title of its web portal, reads the petition, Google, is creating the impression that the portal is carrying out its operations with the approval of the government. “It appears that, by using the word Pakistan in the title of its web portal, Google has violated intellectual property rights,” said the petition.
This potential flaw raises many questions like, who had allowed the Google and YouTube to operate in Pakistan; how come that this company is not paying a single penny in terms of any taxes or duties to the government; why didnt the government of Pakistan enter any agreement with the Google and why didnt it realize the future requirements like blocking of certain web contents.
However, according to experts, now when this unregistered search engine has caused the colossal losses, there is no way to hold it accountable as the authorities should have completed all legal requirements before letting the Google run its operations in the country.
It is to be mentioned here that Google had refused to honour the Pakistani governments request to remove the profane movie from its website taking the plea that since it has entered any agreement with Pakistan, it cant remove the movie.
“We cannot entertain the government of Pakistans request to remove the US movie as we are not in any agreement with Pakistan. We had received a large number of requests from various states, institutions as well as individuals seeking removal of the contents from our website, however, we honoured only of those with which we have signed agreements,” said a senior official of the Google management while talking to an international newspaper.
Pakistan was forced to block the video sharing site YouTube completely after the authorities realised that the government has not installed a filtration system and does not have a treaty with Google that would block objectionable videos.
“In the absence of any such treaty with Pakistan, Google, despite earning a profit of almost Rs50 million from Pakistani internet users in just one year, is not there to cooperate with the local authorities,” an expert requesting his anonymity commented.
While on the other side, YouTube had to pay $18.6 million to Turkey after the Ankara government in June 2010 had asked the website to get registered in Turkey or continue facing ban on its services.
The PTA chairman was quoted as recently saying that the only immediate solution is the complete blockage of YouTube as chasing objectionable sites in ones and twos would not solve the problem. He said that hundreds of sites, where the film was accessible, were blocked but the blasphemous material continues to appear on innumerable other sites.
However, the experts are of the view that the only option available with the government is to either block the Google and its subsidiary sites or force them to enter an agreement with it otherwise the Muslims states of the world should adopt another search engine.