Pakistan blocks 13,000 'obscene' sites

Country looking to step up Web censorship as obscene materials "rapidly" spreading but not considering using costly tools such as automated filtering system, report says.
Written by Ellyne Phneah, Contributor

Pakistan has blocked 13,000 "obscene" Web sites and are taking additional steps to prevent the spread of such materials across the Internet. 

The Times of India reported on Friday that Parliamentary Secretary for Information Technology Nawab Liaqat Ali Khan had made the remark, calling it a "serious issue" that the government is trying to address at the moment.

He went on to express concern at the "rapid spread of obscene Web sites" and admitted the government had no mechanism to block these sites, but pointed out a ministerial committee and a sub-committee had been formed to look into this matter, the report stated.

"[We] take action on receiving a complaint...[and] we are trying to devise a mechanism [to block these sites]," Khan said.

He also noted that China and India have installed an "automated filtration system" to censor sites, but such measures are very costly and would not be effective enough in blocking all objectionable Web sites. Most of these Web sites are based outside Pakistan and authorities have no power to take action or penalise operators, he added.

This is not the first time that Pakistan has made the news for trying to control the Web. The Pakistani government stepped up its enforcement of a ban on private communications in the country last August, reminding Internet service providers (ISPs) to report customers who use encrypted virtual private networks (VPNs), according to an earlier report.

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