Despite Court Order, Egypt Decides It Cannot Block YouTube Nationwide

on February 17 2013 9:17 AM

The Egyptian government's attempt to ban YouTube is not only illegal but technically unfeasible, telecom companies say.   

Last week, Egypt announced that it would block all access to YouTube nationwide. Now, after a civil rights group appealed the decision, it appears that not only will the government not block access, but that it couldn’t if it wanted to.

According to the Associated Press, the Association of Thought and Expression in Egypt appealed the edict in court. In response, a collection of Egyptian telecom companies and government officials stated that not only would a nationwide ban of YouTube be illegal, it would be too expensive to implement.

Egypt initially decided to block assess to YouTube for a month based the backlash against the anti-Islamic film “Innocence of Muslims” in September. The 23-minute film sparked riots in Cairo and all across the Muslim world.

Because the Google-owned YouTube has refused to pull “Innocence of Muslims” from its site except in countries that have outlawed it, Egypt originally made the decision decided to block the entire site nationwide. 

The Egyptian court stated that Youtube "insisted on broadcasting the film insulting Islam and the Prophet, disrespecting the beliefs of millions of Egyptians and disregarding the anger of all Muslims,” according to a Reuters translation.

“Innocence of Muslims” has been a huge thorn in YouTube’s side for the past few months. Despite the outrage, Google seems determined to allow the film online as a free speech issue.

Last year, Google released a statement on the video, stating that “Innocence of Muslims” will remain online and available on YouTube except in companies that have outlawed similar material.

“We work hard to create a community everyone can enjoy and which also enables people to express different opinions,” the statement read. “This can be a challenge because what's OK in one country can be offensive elsewhere. This video -- which is widely available on the Web -- is clearly within our guidelines and so will stay on YouTube. However, we've restricted access to it in countries where it is illegal, such as India and Indonesia, as well as in Libya and Egypt given the very sensitive situations in these two countries. This approach is entirely consistent with principles we first laid out in 2007.”

Google seems to have not been officially contacted about the Egyptian action. A representative for Google told Engadget: "We have received nothing from the judge or government related to this matter."

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