Pakistan Orders ISPs To Block 429,343 Websites Completely, Because There's Porn On The Internet

from the i'm-sure-all-have-been-carefully-reviewed dept

It appears that efforts to censor the internet globally continues to spread, with the latest being a report out of Pakistan that the Pakistan Telecommunication Authority (PTA) has told ISPs that they need to start blocking an astounding 429,343 websites at the domain level as quickly as possible, following a Supreme Court order to the PTA about the evils of porn online.

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 order apparently was issued just a few weeks ago, which raises the question of how the PTA put together a list of so many domains so quickly… and how carefully that list has been vetted. The answer, of course, is that it hasn’t been vetted. And that means that tons of perfectly legitimate content is about to get blocked in Pakistan. Remember, this is the same country that once blocked all of YouTube, and did so in a way that basically knocked Pakistan off the internet, while also blocking YouTube throughout many countries across Asia. Let’s hope mistakes of that nature aren’t made again.

Even so, it’s pretty obvious that mistakes will be made. First, that list is going to include tons of sites that aren’t pornography. Is there a way to appeal? Who knows! Second, it’s likely that in the process of blocking “at the domain level” some may choose to block IP addresses of certain sites, not realizing that many IP addresses are shared among multiple domains, meaning that lots of other sites may get sucked up as well. And then there’s the issue of what good will this do anyway. People who really want to access porn on the internet won’t have trouble finding it. I’m pretty sure there are more than 429,343 websites with porn on the internet, and even if there weren’t, I’m guessing that VPNs and proxies work just as well in Pakistan as they do elsewhere.

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Comments on “Pakistan Orders ISPs To Block 429,343 Websites Completely, Because There's Porn On The Internet”

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50 Comments
tqk (profile) says:

Re: Re: Re: Re:

DNS services don’t really play a role here as the ISP is tasked to block the IP Addresses that the DNS service will resolve.

Wait, DNS isn’t a euphemism, is it?

Think of DNS as icing on the IP cake. You don’t need to eat the icing to eat the cake. 31.192.117.132 will get you to pornhub.com even quicker than typing in its domain name address.

Blocking the IP addresses makes DNS irrelevant. A VPN should make that blocking irrelevant, unless they’re going to build a wall that drops anything incoming from “bad” domains.

I wish prudes would clean up their own act before trying to save others from themselves. If Pakistani youth want to waste their time watching porn, you’ve got to wonder why. Perhaps they think what you’re trying to sell them sucks.

PaulT (profile) says:

Re: Re: Re:

Yes and no. The article states that they’re required to block at the domain level, but some ISPs will just choose to block IPs because that’s easier.

Either way, it’s pretty overbearing and useless. People blocking at the domain level are open to people using alternative DNS services, and to those sites simply choosing an alternative address. Blocking IPs will be useless if the sites change provider, and block legitimate services either sharing the same public IP or who end up being issued the same IP previously used by one of these services.

In other words: politicians have ordered private industry to censor at their own great expense in a way that will do nothing to stop those who actually want to get at the content they’re trying to ban, while also punishing a great number of innocent people and businesses. Par for the course, sadly.

Pronounce (profile) says:

Information is Power

I can’t tell if it’s global ignorance about the technology that makes up telecommunications, or if it’s a smoke screen for establishing control over information. Maybe it’s a little of both.

Two true facts are at play here:

Telecommunications, and the information it carries, is an anathema to the elite. (This fact led to Aaron Swartz’ demise.)

You can’t legislate morality, but morality laws are really good at removing any opposition to those in power.

JP Jones (profile) says:

Re: Information is Power

“You can’t legislate morality, but morality laws are really good at removing any opposition to those in power.”

Keep in mind that Pakistan, although secular in comparison to many other Islamic states, is based heavily on religious rule. Before people get too jumpy about me calling out Pakistan for being religiously oriented, I would point out that Islam is the official state religion of Pakistan and the country has the strictest blasphemy laws of any Muslim-majority country.

In what is essentially a theocracy in all but name you absolutely can legislate morality.

PaulT (profile) says:

Re: Mistakes will be made

You may be right in some cases, but incompetence in whoever compiled the list combined with the high possibility of simply clerical errors makes genuine mistakes inevitable. Plus, the law of unintended consequences (such as when the MPAA’s lackeys inadvertently demand that their own marketing material be taken down) will be in play.

Anonymous Coward says:

Paki government plays whack a mole with boners

The DNS system has needed to be forked into a peer to peer system for a long time. And like it or not, porn built the Internet. (The first decade, porn accounted for more traffic than anything else)

This is probably really good for namecoin. Which is a move in the right direction in terms of deprecating DNS.

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