Media News - Thursday, November 24, 2011
Pakistan rowed back Tuesday from demands that text messages containing nearly 1,700 “obscene” words should be blocked, following outrage from users and campaigners. On 14 November, the Pakistan Telecommunication Authority (PTA) distributed a list of 1,695 words in English and Urdu, the national language, to operators, giving them seven days to implement a filtering system. But the list was met with uproar, both at the attempt to censor messages and the inclusion of many seemingly innocuous terms, among them “Jesus Christ”, “lotion”, “athlete’s foot”, “robber”, “idiot”, “four twenty” and “harder”. PTA spokesman Mohammad Younis Khan on Tuesday said the authority would consult civil society representatives and mobile phone operators on refining a much shorter list of words, giving no timeframe for any eventual ban. A PTA committee with representatives of civil society and mobile phone operators will decide on a “final list of objectionable words” which Khan conceded could be only around a dozen. A letter accompanying the list on 14 November said filtering was legal under the Pakistan Telecommunication Act of 1996 which prohibits people from transmitting messages that are “false, fabricated, indecent or obscene”. The PTA on Tuesday claimed that the 14 November list was merely “preliminary” and “advice” for operators to adopt a filtering system. (AFP via Media Network)
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