Sunday, November 20, 2011

Pakistan Blocks 'Obscene' Texts Including "Jesus Christ"

 The Pakistan Telecommunications Authority (PTA) has told mobile phone companies to begin blocking text messages containing "obscene" words.

Mobile phone companies Telenor Pakistan and Ufone confirmed to the BBC that the PTA has sent them a "dictionary" of banned words and expressions.
The PTA has reportedly ordered operators to begin screening text messages by 21 November.
Ufone say they are now working on how to block the offending words.
A letter dated 14 November, apparently written by Muhammad Talib Doger, an official at the PTA, has been leaked to Pakistani media.
It states that mobile phone operators should begin screening the words, provided on a list attached to the letter, within seven days.
"We have received both the dictionary and the memo and we're discussing a way forward," said Anjum Nida Rahman, corporate communications director for Telenor Pakistan.
The ban is a reaction to consumers' complaints of receiving offensive text messages, Mohammad Younis, a spokesman for the PTA, told The Guardian newspaper.
"Nobody would like this happening to their young boy or girl," he said. He added that the list was not finished and that the authority would continue to add to it.
'What am I missing?'
An unconfirmed version of the PTA's list is being circulated online, containing hundreds of words and expressions in both English and Urdu.
According to this version, the entries range from those too obscene to repeat to the bizarre.
Some of the choices on the list have baffled Pakistani mobile phone users, many of whom have taken to Twitter to ridicule the move.
Syed Adnan Yousuf, tweeting as @AdnanWhy, asked: "Why is 'head lights' banned? What am I missing here?"
Some people have suggested bypassing the ban by replacing words with their number on the PTA's list.
Pakistan has seen a big increase in mobile phone use in recent years - 100m Pakistanis are now estimated to be mobile phone users.
ISLAMABAD (AP) — Texters in Pakistan better start watching their language.
Pakistan’s telecommunications authority sent a letter ordering cell phone companies to block text messages containing what it perceives to be obscenities, Anjum Nida Rahman, a spokeswoman for Telenor Pakistan, said Friday.
It also sent a list of more than 1,500 English and Urdu words that were to be blocked.
The order was part of the regulator’s attempt to block spam messages, said Rahman. The Pakistan Telecommunication Authority refused to comment on the initiative.
Many of the words to be blocked were sexually explicit terms or swear words, according to a copy of the list obtained by The Associated Press.
It also included relatively mild terms like fart and idiot.
The reasons for blocking some words, including Jesus Christ, headlights and tampon, were less clear, raising questions about religious freedom and practicality. Any word could conceivably be part of a spam message.
The letter, which was also obtained by the AP, was dated Nov. 14 and gave cell phone companies seven days to implement the order.
Rahman, the Telenor spokeswoman, said her company first received the letter Thursday and was discussing how to proceed.
“It’s a big issue, so it is being examined carefully from all points of view,” said Rahman.
The letter said the order was legal under a 1996 law preventing people from sending information through the telecommunications system that is “false, fabricated, indecent or obscene.”
It also stated that free speech can be restricted “in the interest of the glory of Islam.”
Under pressure from Islamists, Pakistan has blocked pornographic websites and ones deemed anti-Islamic. Last year, it temporarily banned Facebook because of material on the site deemed offensive to Islam.

There is a 1996 Pakistani Law where it states that free speech can be restricted "in the interest of the glory of Islam." 

Some of the allegedly banned words

  • Athlete's foot
  • Flatulence
  • Jesus Christ
  • Monkey crotch
  • Back door
  • Bewaquf (foolish)
  • Bakwaas (nonsense)
  • Wuutang (a presumed reference to American rap group the Wu-Tang Clan)
  • Fart
  • Idiot
  • Tampons
  • Headlights

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