Pakistan to block over 400,000 porn websites

Published: January 26, 2016
Implementing the order will take some time, say service providers. PHOTO: AFP

Implementing the order will take some time, say service providers. PHOTO: AFP

KARACHI: Pakistan is preparing to launch a major crackdown on internet pornography after its telecom regulator ordered internet service providers on Monday to block access to more than 400,000 adult websites.

Acess to sites featuring smut and pornographic material will be restricted at the domain level, sources familiar with the development confirmed this to The Express Tribune. Telecommunication Authority (PTA) has asked (ISPs) across Pakistan to block over 400,000 ‘pornographic websites’.

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The directive was issued by the Pakistan Telecommunication Authority (PTA).

The move apparently follows a recent order by the Supreme Court wherein the telecom sector’s regulatory body had been asked to “take remedial steps to quantify the nefarious phenomenon of obscenity and pornography that has an imminent role to corrupt and vitiate the youth of Pakistan”.

PTA said it has decided to take pre-emptive measures to block such websites at the domain level to control dissemination of pornographic content through the internet as it provided ISPs with a list of 429,343 domains to be blocked on their respective networks.

The SC order, dated January 12, 2016 had stated that information in every field of the world has become so widespread that any person can acquaint himself with the latest developments taking place in the world.

Such means of information, the order reads, should be encouraged and even amplified so that people who don’t have means and resources to go abroad and acquire information can have it at their doorsteps.

“But this information has to be qualified. It can’t be extended to include every nasty and nefarious phenomenon, which has the potential to corrupt and vitiate the youth. This aspect of the subject has to be thought over holistically so that the negative part of the information may not spoil our young generation.”

Tall order

ISPs that The Express Tribune spoke to said that the list provided by PTA was extensive and that they would face challenges, especially of time, while trying to block content.

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Officials said that blocking websites at the domain level was a gigantic and costly exercise, since it would require changes in their systems and special equipment to block such a large number of websites – not to mention a significant amount of man hours needed for this purpose.

However, they said that they had started work on the order since they were bound to abide by the law.

Published in The Express Tribune, January 26th,  2016.

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Reader Comments (36)

  • mdb
    Jan 26, 2016 - 11:39AM

    Good Work PTA.Recommend

  • Baseer Khan
    Jan 26, 2016 - 12:47PM

    It’s a good step but I hope they have taken the issue of Proxies in consideration as there are softwares/ websites and applications that provide the facility to let you surf the web anonymously and securely. If no step taken to block those too then I think it will improve their business as more and more people will go for it. I hope the decision makers are wise and sincere as any of the defect will cause further damage.Recommend

  • Jan 26, 2016 - 1:43PM

    come on. Do not make people fool. More content is added daily compared to what they(PTIA) is blocking.Recommend

  • Josheela
    Jan 26, 2016 - 2:01PM

    A long awaited decision indeed. PTA should learn from Iran, UAE and other Islamic countries on how swiftly and easily they managed to block the despicable content on the internet. This type of content serves no purpose other than destroy the fragile and impressionable youth of our decent country. The damage has already been done but lets save the new generation… Recommend

  • Jan 26, 2016 - 2:20PM

    Dear sir,

    Its mean you want more proxy embedded websites. Recommend

  • Jan 26, 2016 - 2:56PM

    Some decent usage of national level “URL Filtering and Blocking System”.But PTA has to start working with new technologies now. Just plain url block is no good as this kind of material on web is ever growing.

    Specially block on you tube in past has made Pakistanis quite tech savy when it comes down to tunneling and using proxy to access the blocked content.There are other technologies like keyword filtering.Websites and services should be blocked using a combination of data feeds from private content-control technology companies.

    GOVT should understand that they can not do this alone and they need active participation from NGOS and Private technology companies to help them create and manage a transparent system for URL filtering. NGOs Like PISA or tech companies like Tier3 Cyber security can be good place to start with their content-control technology.Recommend

  • Dong
    Jan 26, 2016 - 4:25PM

    To all the idiots calling it a good step, this step will only propagate sexual frustration and sexual violence in our country. People are exposed to highly provocative material via movies, commercials etc due to current tech. This builds up sexual energy in every person that needs a release and considering that the marrying age in Pakistan is 22+, What do you think the youth will do to satisfy their desires?

    Porn is just a necessary evil of our current times, so instead of educating our youth to avoid addiction. We are again acting like human sexuality doesn’t exist in our pious and Muslim society.

    PS: and No masturbation has no PHYSICALLY damaging effects science has proved it.Recommend

  • Abcd
    Jan 26, 2016 - 5:45PM

    The website names should be put in public domain for youngsters to now which all are blocked. This will save our precious time.Recommend

  • Saad
    Jan 26, 2016 - 7:46PM

    Great stepRecommend

  • SG
    Jan 26, 2016 - 8:01PM

    What is the big deal if grown up people want to watch porn? How can any sane country go about banning 400,000 websites? People who want to watch it will anyway find ways through proxy etc. People who are not interested will not access it anyway.Recommend

  • Hassan Y.
    Jan 26, 2016 - 8:30PM

    Reality is the marriages are made difficult in this society and the youth somehow indulge themselves in watching pornography.
    Decision to block websites will give boost to proxies. Recommend

  • Hameed
    Jan 26, 2016 - 8:33PM

    What about the remaining 40 million?Recommend

  • Whatsoever
    Jan 26, 2016 - 8:42PM

    They can ban porn websites,but how will they ban porn from the mind of the youngsters of Pakistan?Recommend

  • Average Pakistani
    Jan 26, 2016 - 9:27PM

    Do they honestly think that this will stop anyone from watching porn? It’s an unnecessary solution to a problem that does not exist; in fact, banning pornography would make things even worse. People tend to be sexually repressed in a conservative society such as ours and that often leads to people releasing their frustrations in other ways (rape, pedophilia etc). Besides, moderate amount of pornography and masturbation doesn’t hurt anyone especially you people. with your holier than thou attiude.Recommend

  • Anonymous
    Jan 26, 2016 - 9:41PM

    ohho come on there is 100+ VPN’s Browser and Unblock Proxies Websites so what ISP should do from them ? Recommend

  • come_on
    Jan 26, 2016 - 9:45PM

    oh come on!
    you really think this is important right now?
    also, do you really think this will do anything, there are many video-wallas that you can get porn from!Recommend

  • Lion King
    Jan 26, 2016 - 9:51PM

    That’s a flagrant violation of basic human rightsRecommend

  • buba
    Jan 26, 2016 - 10:14PM

    400,000 seems like a big number – but not so much when you consider there are an estimated 260 million porn sites in the World. Managing morality is a difficult task – managing the internet is an impossible task.Recommend

  • DarkLord9252
    Jan 26, 2016 - 11:23PM

    The sites that i use are already BlockedRecommend

  • Rohail
    Jan 26, 2016 - 11:31PM

    First of all banning online content is extremely hard. They have struggled to prevent access to torrent websites in the UK and USA for years now with no successful strategy in sight. So they wont be able to achieve it on technical grounds. Proxies are fake IP addresses remain effective.

    The ethical and moral argument is flawed as it is not backed by any empirical evidence that pornography “corrupts” youth. The evidence in fact is contrary to popular belief in the limited research done in the west. Fear should not dictate law. Recommend

  • Noddy
    Jan 27, 2016 - 12:16AM

    The same thing was done by Indian Gov but only for 300 something websites, but the people revolted, and the ban was taken off within a day,
    Million dollar question:
    Will Pakistani people even revolt, even if they do revolt, will the government listen to them?Recommend

  • TooTrue
    Jan 27, 2016 - 12:41AM

    You can’t legislate “morality”. When will you ever learn?Recommend

  • Jan 27, 2016 - 12:56AM

    Good. Now ban the salafi websites so easily available. Ban the islamic interpretations that dont respect pakistani laws.Recommend

  • curious2
    Jan 27, 2016 - 1:48AM

    China has over 100,000 people dedicated to controlling internet content – with not much success. Anyone who thinks Pakistan can control the internet is fooling themselves.Recommend

  • Sohaib Rashid
    Jan 27, 2016 - 2:24AM

    It is nothing but wastage of time & money people who want to watch porn will watch it one way or another, blocking sites never works it may work for a while for new or rookie users but eventually they are going to find a way to go around it.Recommend

  • Clockboy Ahmed
    Jan 27, 2016 - 6:26AM

    Pakistanis can do miracles. See where we were and where we are. Controlling internet is no big deal. Thanks Jinnah.Recommend

  • Rollin & Trollin
    Jan 27, 2016 - 7:56AM

    @Lion King:
    Exactly ! What is a self-respecting wankster to do !!Recommend

  • Rui
    Jan 27, 2016 - 12:02PM

    I am afraid blocking sites at the domain level is a stop-gap measure. Pakistan is already using proxies, I do remember quite well their worldwide bid for a project to install them in every world city, so it is doubtful changing DNS servers will work.

    However, there are too many sites, and too many to evade. If you truly want people to have access to all the greatest information, there is little you can do to prevent them for looking at what you do not want.

    Historically, the measures to block porn have been abused to block dissident sites. It is quite easy to sneak in a few sites in the middle of the 400k, nobody has the man power to check them out.

    At the end of the day, this measures just exacerbates the digital divide between the haves and have nots, those that can pay for VPN services, and those who cannot.

    I also would be very interested to learn how did they create the list of the 400k domains. Recommend

  • Faraz Hasan
    Jan 27, 2016 - 12:52PM

    This is not the solution. Banning something does not make it go away, instead it increases its appeal even more. The government banned alcohol, thereby creating a huge black market for the product to be brought in via other channels. In a so called Islamic state, the majority of alcohol sold is to Muslims. The idea of blocking porn sites is not a new one, but 400,000 is nothing. There must be over a million or more porn sites out there. How are they going to block them all? The sad truth is that while millions of people are flocking to these sites, banning them is not the answer. People will still find alternatives and ways to circumvent the authority. Recommend

  • Jan 27, 2016 - 7:28PM

    Pakistan require 150000 employees to scrutinize and block these websites. We have to ask Saudi Arabia to donate money to appoint this much staff. Every day fifty thousand new porn sites are posted world wide. There should be limit to the foolishness of the ruling class.Recommend

  • Say Wat?
    Jan 27, 2016 - 7:53PM

    @Lion King: Oh! I didn’t notice the line; “…and freedom to watch porn…” anywhere in the bill. By the way; Its good news for local TV, Movies, Singers, Poets, Stage shows, Comedian, Athletes, Wives, local Beauty Parlors and Physical Fitness center and Tourism. All of them Got another chance to Prove what Real service, Show Biz and Skill is. So many corners of our society were sidelined and neglected due to porn sites.Recommend

  • Mr_Batman
    Jan 28, 2016 - 12:07AM

    It’s ironic how most people in the comments’ section use the word ‘youngsters’ like adults never watched it themselves, essentially creating another stereotype being a typical Pakistani. Married people and adults watch porn as much as ‘youngsters.’ You can Google it.Recommend

  • Virat
    Jan 29, 2016 - 1:16AM

    I appreciate Pak Govt. for this step. We in India had implemented it in the recent past but our stupid liberals opposed it. Shocked to see from comments that such liberals exist in Pak also – look at how much damage it has already done. Better late than never. When will India learn?!! About those oversmart proxy lover ppl in comments, authorities can monitor who is trying to access forbidden content (just like they do in China), make arrests and give them good lashing.Recommend

  • J.E.
    Mar 15, 2016 - 7:56PM

    And this is why I am happy to be in the wonderful United States. Bullcrap like that wouldn’t fly with our government. We have better things to worry about then trying to stop our teens from getting their rocks off. Recommend

  • AK
    Apr 18, 2016 - 3:19AM


    “Decent Country”

    Either you’re blind or don’t really go out much. This country has one of the largest amount of phonographic viewers in the world. It’s a mindset that has developed over the years due to the nature of our culture. Doing this won’t change anything.Recommend

  • AK
    Apr 18, 2016 - 3:21AM

    Couldn’t have said it better myselfRecommend

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