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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  • icon
    AricTheRed (profile), 28 Jan 2016 @ 10:40am

    Wait!

    If Pakistan blocks all the pornography does that mean there really are only only 429,353 websites on the internet?

    reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

  • identicon
    Anonymous Coward, 28 Jan 2016 @ 10:52am

    Will they also block other DNS services, as switching to an alternative DNS providers bypasses the ISP's DNS servers?

    reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

    • identicon
      Anonymous Coward, 28 Jan 2016 @ 11:05am

      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.

      reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

      • identicon
        Anonymous Coward, 28 Jan 2016 @ 1:24pm

        Re: Re:

        Wait, DNS isn't a euphemism, is it?

        reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

        • icon
          tqk (profile), 28 Jan 2016 @ 3:37pm

          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.

          reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

      • icon
        PaulT (profile), 28 Jan 2016 @ 11:23pm

        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.

        reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

  • icon
    Blaine (profile), 28 Jan 2016 @ 10:57am

    Where would I find a list of these websites? I'm sure there's a couple in there I haven't seen yet.

    reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

  • icon
    Pronounce (profile), 28 Jan 2016 @ 11:04am

    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.

    reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

    • icon
      JP Jones (profile), 1 Feb 2016 @ 1:45am

      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.

      reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

  • identicon
    Anonymous Coward, 28 Jan 2016 @ 11:05am

    I'm going to say the obvious: the internet is for porn.

    reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

    • identicon
      Anonymous Coward, 28 Jan 2016 @ 12:45pm

      Re:

      Wait, when did that happen? There's porn on the internet? WHY DIDN'T ANYONE TELL ME?!?

      reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

      • identicon
        Anonymous Coward, 28 Jan 2016 @ 5:12pm

        Re: Re:

        Rule 34

        It's not like these rules are hidden somewhere ... in the bottom of a locked filing cabinet stuck in a disused lavatory with a sign on the door saying ‘Beware of the Leopard.'

        reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

  • icon
    dparadis (profile), 28 Jan 2016 @ 11:18am

    I'm Shocked!

    Shocked, I tell you, to find out there is porn on the Internet!

    reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

  • identicon
    Anonymous Coward, 28 Jan 2016 @ 11:33am

    ahhhhhh!!! art i disagree with!!! how dare you express yourselves!!!

    reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

  • identicon
    Anonymous Coward, 28 Jan 2016 @ 11:34am

    Pakistan can only achieve it's goals of removing porn by removing access to the internet.

    reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

  • identicon
    Anonymous Coward, 28 Jan 2016 @ 11:56am

    Of course the list was vetted. The members of the PTA just listed all the domains they normally go to on any given day.

    reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

  • identicon
    Mark Wing, 28 Jan 2016 @ 1:42pm

    I never realized there was that much porn on the Internet. Here I am using the same 5 like a chump, when I could be surfing the porn cornucopia of 429,343.

    reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

  • identicon
    Anonymous Coward, 28 Jan 2016 @ 2:04pm

    So where's the list?

    I'm very curious to see what's on (and what's not on) that list. I have my own collections of various domain names (for various purposes, nearly entirely research) and it would be instructive to see this one in order to gain some insight into how they compiled it.

    reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

    • identicon
      Anonymous Coward, 28 Jan 2016 @ 2:09pm

      Re: So where's the list?

      It's classified information, because to release wit would encourage the youth to find ways of visiting the sites on it.

      reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

      • identicon
        Anonymous Coward, 28 Jan 2016 @ 2:29pm

        Re: Re: So where's the list?

        It shouldn't be secret for long: the ISPs who have to implement it need to know. Their employees need to know. Somebody, somewhere, need to leak this list.

        reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

  • icon
    DannyB (profile), 28 Jan 2016 @ 2:14pm

    Mistakes will be made

    > Even so, it's pretty obvious that mistakes will be made.

    Who says they will be 'mistakes'?

    A massive operation of blocking sites provides fantastic cover to 'accidentally' block things which are not part of the operation. (political speech)

    reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

    • icon
      PaulT (profile), 28 Jan 2016 @ 11:31pm

      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.

      reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

      • identicon
        Anonymous Coward, 4 Mar 2016 @ 3:10am

        Re: Re: Mistakes will be made

        perhaps the new name will inspire confidence


        Pakistan Intelligent Telecommunication Authority (PITA)

        reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

  • identicon
    Pixelation, 28 Jan 2016 @ 3:09pm

    Oh those poor Pakistani bastards. What will they do?

    reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

  • identicon
    Anonymous Coward, 28 Jan 2016 @ 3:54pm

    Sure, we'll stop the internet from vitiating our youth

    ... because they'll never think of schtupping local girls on their own.

    And if they do, well, the girls had it coming for being attractive, right?

    reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

  • icon
    techflaws (profile), 28 Jan 2016 @ 9:49pm

    and did so in a way that basically knocked Pakistan off the internet

    And nothing of value was lost.

    I'm still wondering though if some of those idiots will be popping up here in the comments again defending the move like last time.

    Of course, whatever is still here, so we have a least one contender.

    reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

    • identicon
      Anonymous Coward, 29 Jan 2016 @ 6:52pm

      Response to: techflaws on Jan 28th, 2016 @ 9:49pm

      Wait, what, nothing was lost? Are you kidding me? Who is going to do my offshore coding and tech support?

      reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

  • icon
    Ninja (profile), 29 Jan 2016 @ 1:46am

    I'm pretty sure there are more than 429,343 websites with porn on the internet

    Considering some site counts put the number of pages in the billions and that the internet is for porn what Michael Bay is for fireworks... I'd say they are off by a few billions.

    reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

  • identicon
    Glenn, 29 Jan 2016 @ 3:03am

    Quick! ...before people realize that everyone is naked under their clothing! Oh, my!

    reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

  • identicon
    Anonymous Coward, 29 Jan 2016 @ 4:48am

    Re: 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.

    reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

  • icon
    Mattmon (profile), 29 Jan 2016 @ 8:30am

    A story on Techdirt next week:
    Pakistan Orders ISPs To Block 4,293,430 Proxy Websites

    reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

  • identicon
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  • identicon
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    reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]


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