84,000 websites containing "salacious content" blocked by PTA

Dunya News

Parental control software to be made available soon for downloading on PTA website .

Dunya News Report (Madiha Fareed)

ISLAMABAD- In response to Supreme Court’s order issued on January 12, 2016, Pakistan Telecommunication Authority (PTA) has submitted a report stating that nearly 84,000 websites containing obscene and pornographic content have been blocked in the country.

Supreme Court of Pakistan had directed Pakistan Telecommunications Authority (PTA) to submit a detailed a report regarding the mechanism for blocking websites that contain objectionable content.
PTA has submitted that it has taken steps in “respectful compliance” of the court’s order, which has asked it to take remedial measures to tackle the despicable phenomenon of pornography and obscenity that has a looming role to corrupt the youth of Pakistan”.

In addition to that, PTA has provided a list of approximately 400,000 websites that contain obnoxious/ smutty content to the Internet Services Providers (ISP’s) for blocking on domain level. Pakistan Telecommunication Authority (PTCL) has banned 200000 websites so far.

The report went on to say that Government of Pakistan has constituted an Inter-Ministerial Committee (IMC) to block the websites that contain objectionable and explicit content. The members of the IMC include Secretary IT, Nominees of Ministry of Information & Broadcasting, Nominee of Ministry of Interior, Nominee of Cabinet Division, Telecom Expert from Ministry of IT and a Nominee of Intelligence Agency. The mandate of IMC is to examine and evaluate all such material and request for blocking of offensive websites (URLs) forwarded by the individuals, agencies and ministries and send its recommendations to ministry of Information Technology (MoIT) for issuance of necessary directions for filtering / blocking by the PTA accordingly. PTA has set up a toll free number as well on which the offensive material can be reported.

The court was also informed that solid steps are being taken with consultation of stakeholders to improve the procedure to counter these websites. However, PTA has also expressed concern that it is not possible to block all the websites, as new websites are being made and uploaded every day and also it affects the speed of internet and deteriorates the internet quality.

The report stated that PTA is also exploring different parental control software which allows the parents to control what websites or content can be visited by their children, which will be made available on PTA’s website so that it could be downloaded by users.

PTA is in consultation with PTCL and Transworld Associates (TWA), two major cable landing operators of the country, for managing the deployment of suitable system and equipment for effective blocking of the X-Rated websites. PTA is establishing Internet Exchange Point (IXP) to facilitate the local internet traffic to remain local as well as it will help in the development of local contents with good users’ experience.

Lately, YouTube was unblocked in the country after being banned for almost three year. YouTube services was made available after it launched a localized version for Pakistan that would contain the country-appropriate content and will give access to local authorities to remove any content they deem as unbefitting. The YouTube was banned in the country after it published a film containing blasphemous content and then refused to remove it from the website.

The report stressed that along with blocking of the websites, there is a dire need to raise awareness among internet users.

The fact that Pakistan tops the list of porn-searching countries according to the statistics released by Google, has forced authorities to take notice of the alarming situation that is morally corrupting the youth of the country.