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Bangladesh Unblocks YouTube After Eight-Month Ban

Bangladesh's telecommunication authorities have unblocked YouTube in Bangladesh after 260 days of restricting access within the country to the video sharing website.

The Bangladesh Telecommunication Regulatory Commission (BTRC) blocked YouTube on September 17, 2012 to prevent people from watching a trailer of a US film titled “Innocence of Muslims,” which mocks Islam and Prophet Hazrat Muhammad. The telecom watchdog claimed that it contacted Google prior to the ban asking them to remove the video, but Google reportedly refused to oblige.

The ban was lifted on June 5, 2013, making the site accessible to Bangladeshi netizens once again.

Image by Wikimedia Commons user HernandoJoseAJ.  CC By -SA

Image by Wikimedia Commons user HernandoJoseAJ. CC By-SA.

The block actually incurred a loss for the Bangladeshi economy, according to Fahim Mashroor, the ex-Secretary of the Bangladesh Association of Software and Information Services. He said in an interview [bn] with German radio Deutsche Welle that the outsourcing industry suffered due to the ban.

Last year, Bangladeshis earned 57 million US dollars working for the online outsourcing industry with an annual growth of 54 percent. The eight month-long ban on YouTube will curtail that phenomenal growth this year.

Not only economic loss, many students, teachers, and researchers faced difficulties in their studies not being able to access online education videos hosted on YouTube.

Web users celebrated the renewed YouTube access. Khaledur Rahman Shakil (@krshakil) expressed his delight:

@কেআরশাকিল: ‘মুক্তি’ পেল ইউটিউব ফুলের মালা দিয়ে বরণ করে নিলাম ! জয় স্বাধীনতা।

@krshakil: YouTube is free! Ushering it with garlands. Go freedom!

Neel Aparajita (@oporajita789) celebrated the joys of social networking freedom:

@অপরাজিতা৭৮৯: ইউটিউব জেলখানা থেকে ছাড়া পাওয়ার আনন্দে ফেসবুক-টুইটার-এ যেদিকে তাকাই, যেখানে চোখ যায়… অইস!! খালি ইউটিউব আর ইউটিউব! #ফিলিংগ্রেট

@oporajita789: The joys of YouTube's freedom from the jail of filters is evident everywhere on social media. Everybody is talking about it #feelinggreat.

Although YouTube was blocked, many in Bangladesh were able to circumvent the ban. Ashickur Rahman Noor (@ashicunnoor) remembered that fact on Twitter:

@ashicunnoor: ডিজিটাল বাংলাদেশের স্বাধীনতা… :) সোজা পথে অনেকদিন পর ইউটিউবে হান্দাইলাম… #চৌক্ষেপানি! :)

@ashicunnoor: The freedom of Digital Bangladesh. Could access YouTube without any circumvention tool :) #tearsinmyeyes :)

Blogger Bahadur Bappi questioned the reason behind such a long ban on community blogging platform Somewhereinblog.net:

আমার প্রশ্ন হৈল এই ৮ মাস ইউটিউবকে আটকিয়ে রেখে সরকার কি এমন লাভ করলো??

My question is what benefit did the government achieve blocking YouTube for eight long months?

Thumbnail image by Flickr user spainvictorcompany and published under a CC (BY-NC-SA) License.

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