Should Google Censor an Anti-Islam Video?
Editor’s note: Jillian C. York is director for international freedom of expression at the Electronic Frontier Foundation. She is a columnist for Al Jazeera.
(CNN) — Just hours after the U.S. consulate came under attack in Libya, resulting in the death of the U.S. ambassador and three of his colleagues, YouTube blocked access to an anti-Islam video that sparked protests in Egypt and Libya. The video, which was made in America and crudely characterized the Prophet Mohammed, understandably offended many Muslims.
It would appear that the decision by Google — which owns YouTube — was based not on an order by either government but on its own concerns. “We work hard to create a community everyone can enjoy and which also enables people to express different opinions,” YouTube said in a statement. “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, given the very difficult situation in Libya and Egypt we have temporarily restricted access in both countries. Our hearts are with the families of the people murdered in yesterday’s attack in Libya.”
Although the video remains accessible for the rest of the world, users in Egypt and Libya will, upon attempting to access it, encounter a message that it is not available in their jurisdiction. This is the same mechanism used when a copyright holder restricts content to a certain country.