» » Blocking all offensive websites is impossible, says PTA

The Pakistan Telecommunication Authority (PTA) has finally admitted that it is virtually impossible to block all offensive websites as hundreds of sites emerge every day and even if blocked these may be accessed through proxy sites.

In its reply submitted to the top court, the PTA has expressed reservations over the continuous blockade of websites on a massive scale as it would severely affect internet quality.

Over 60,000 websites were blocked by PTA

PTA Director-General Nisar Ahmad has filed the report in compliance with the Supreme Court’s January 12 order on a petition filed by Qazi Hussain Ahmed, the late chief of Jamaat-e-Islami (JI) and another JI leader Muhammad Hussain Mehanti. In the last hearing, the court had sought suggestions from all respondents for removing objectionable content from the social and electronic media.

The PTA has stated a lot of new websites are made and uploaded on a daily basis, and Virtual Private Networks (VPNs) and proxies can be used to access them even if they are blocked.

The internet, the PTA wrote, is a club of millions of computers connected together to serve each other. Each computer on the internet is assigned with a unique Internet Protocol (IP) address. Among them, a few act as clients and the others act as servers. Whenever any client wants to connect with a server to fetch data or information, it raises its request in human language, which is translated by the Domain Name Server (DNS) into an IP address (machine language).

The authority has so far blocked approximately 84,000 websites containing objectionable content.  A list of approximately 400,000 obscene websites has also been given to all internet services providers for blocking them. While about 200,000 links have been blocked, the operators require more time.

The PTA told the court it was also considering a number of steps for blocking offensive material on the internet.

Published in The Express Tribune, February 5th,  2016.

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