For more than three years, YouTube has been inaccessible in Pakistan–until now. The seventh-most populous nation in the world has lifted its ban on the world’s most popular video sharing site just days after YouTube unveiled a custom homepage aimed at the country’s viewers.
Pakistan blocked YouTube in 2012 in response to “Innocence of Muslims,” a controversial short film that painted the prophet Muhammad in an unflattering light. The film caused massive protests throughout the Islamic world, and when YouTube declined to remove it, Pakistan opted to ban the site nationwide.
YouTube’s return to Pakistan was forecast on January 14th, when the video site announced a new version of its homepage catered to Pakistani viewers. The new homepage highlights top videos from the country and was initially only accessible through a proxy server.
While YouTube can now be easily accessed by the Pakistani public, the local government’s Pakistan Telecommunication Authority (PTA) will continue to monitor the site and request video takedowns as it sees fit. An important note, however, is that the PTA itself will not be able to delete local videos; instead, YouTube will still get a chance to review all the PTA-flagged videos itself. In a statement reported by Reuters, Pakistan’s Ministry of Information Technology and Telecom said YouTube would “accordingly restrict access” for local users.
Should YouTube fail to comply with the Pakistani government’s demands, it may find itself blocked once again. The latest ban was the third time YouTube had been shut down in Pakistan; before 2012, it was previously blocked in 2008 and 2010.
While it is now unbanned in Pakistan, YouTube is still off-limits in several other nations. The list of countries that currently block access to the video site include China, Iran, North Korea, and South Sudan.