One week ago, in the face of the violence that killed over 60 people, I praised the Government of Bangladesh. Why? Because they showed a measured, fair, and just response and (equally important) the Government of Bangladesh did not resort to censoring the internet. People were free and clear to use whatever site they wished… until now.
As reported by many people on Twitter, some Bangladesh-based blogs, and as personally verified by me over a 24 hour period from two different cities and various ISPs, Bangladesh appears to be blocking access to YouTube. If you are tech savvy, there are (legal) ways you can bypass this, but for the average person with an internet connection – YouTube is more or less blocked.
I still hold out hope that this is some weird, multi-city, multi-ISP glitch that has caused this. Because I still hold hope that Bangladesh will not pursue the route that many of its neighbors in this region have pursued by blocking the free flow of information. Yes, I realize that such a free flow of information will always be a security risk. But, it has also done a lot of good – and this project is a testament to that.
Using nothing but a laptop, a camcorder, and access to YouTube – I have been able to show first hand the struggles of those who survived Cyclone Sidr, I have been able to break stereotypes by showing that the poorest of the poor (especially in Bangladesh) are some of the hardest working people on the planet, and, most importantly, we’ve been able to touch and help a great many people.
I’ve seen how YouTube can be used as a force for good. If this indeed an official government position to block YouTube, Bangladesh will ultimately lose more than it will gain.