Thew White House has asked Google to pull the anti-Muhammed video that is said to have led to violent demonstrations. Google has publicly refused.
Quietly, it has restricted access to the video in a few Muslim nations and India. So, it appears that the demonstrations are no longer being fueled by the presence of the video.
Google, which own YouTube, where the video is hosted, said that the video is “clearly within our guidelines and so will stay on YouTube.”
The name of the video is “Innocence of Muslims.” It was produced by an American resident who is a Coptic Christian. Maybe. No one seems to know.
While the protests intensified over the video, YouTube blocked access to the clip in Libya and Egypt. YouTube cited “the very sensitive situations” in those two countries. Later YouTube also blocked access to the video in India and Indonesia after their governments told Youtube the video broke their laws.
So, it is technically possible for YouTube to block access to certain nations. The problem for the government is that other video hosting services outside the government’s jurisdiction could refuse to cooperate.
In its Friday statement, YouTube said that outside of Libya, Egypt, India and Indonesia, the video will remain on its website.
“We work hard to create a community everyone can enjoy and which also enables people to express different opinions,” the YouTube statement said. “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 claims the video does not violate its hate speech restriction.
The ability of any government to prohibit access to Internet content is limited. This incident reveals the limits facing governments.
Under some circumstances, the U.S. government can gain cooperation from Google, but these instances are limited. This video is creating a crisis for the government, yet it remains available.
At some political price, the government can gain partial cooperation, but not all the time.
All talk of an Internet off switch is vastly exaggerated. The governments of the world are essentially helpless in the face of resistance across their borders.