Google, the owner of video sharing website YouTube, has approved the government’s request to block the short film Innocence of Muslims that denigrates Islam and the Prophet Muhammad and has triggered massive protests around the globe, according to Communication and Information Minister Tifatul Sembiring.
“My ministry and YouTube have been engaged in cooperation since Thursday, last week. I submitted the request in the morning, in the afternoon YouTube blocked 16 links to the clip,” Tifatul told the press at the State Palace on Tuesday.
He added the blocking measures only applied to internet users in Indonesia, meaning that the clips themselves remained on YouTube’s servers.
Tifatul, who is also a senior member of the Prosperous Justice Party (PKS), said that the move to file the request with Google had been made under a directive from Coordinating Political, Legal and Security Affairs Minister Djoko Suyanto.
Similar videos, however, remained accessible due to numerous uploads by different users using alternative titles, Tifatul said.
“The government continues to submit to YouTube new links to be blocked,” Tifatul said. He said he had watched a two-minute version of the video.
He claimed that all of the videos had been uploaded from overseas. “If the uploaders were in Indonesia, we could track them,” he said.
Even though YouTube users continue to upload copies of the video, the government will not block the YouTube website itself. “YouTube does not do anything wrong, doesn’t it?” he said.
“Google and YouTube did not publish the videos, their users did. Besides, the websites are useful for many positive things, even you [journalists] look for dates by Googling, don’t you?” Tifatul said.
Google previously said it refused a White House request to take down the clip on YouTube but was restricting access to it in certain countries.
YouTube said in a statement last Friday that the video was widely available on the Web and was "clearly within our guidelines and so it will stay on YouTube."
While protests intensified over the video, YouTube has 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.(iwa)