The government in it’s infinite wisdom “sets up a formal body to censor the internet”:http://www.dawn.com/2006/09/03/nat3.htm:
bq. ISLAMABAD, Sept 2: The government on Saturday set up a committee to streamline mechanism for screening and blocking websites offering objectionable contents. *”This is the first-ever focused attempt by the government to block offensive websites,* warranted because of growing concern among people about indecent content,” a senior government official said.
Enlightened moderation means the government will only block those websites not enlightened enough to follow their religious, political, ethical and moral values. Websites promoting fast food and fake medicines are OK, as are spam websites. Sheikh_Chilli wrote over at “wiredpakistan”:http://wiredpakistan.com/forums/viewtopic.php?pid=7807#p7807 that while the IT ministry has failed in all of it’s basic tasks, _they sprint like crazy to curb our freedom of speech at the drop of a hat. One individual, some egg-head bureaucrat sitting in a ministry, is now going to decide what info the 160 million Pakistanis can, or cannot see._
bq. Constituted by the Ministry of Information Technology, its Secretary Farrukh Qayyum would preside over the body to examine contents of websites reported or found to be offensive or containing anti-state material.
As you -can- can’t see, this will be the busiest Ministry by far, as they go through the 14 billion or so porn pages on the internet, making sure each one is “safe” to visit. A few months ago, there was a great hue and cry about Pakistan leading the world in online searches for “sex on Google”:http://www.google.com/trends?q=sex. The real reason has finally come out – it was the legions of govt. employees and ministers scouting out the internet to make it safer for the “common man”!
bq. Representatives of ministries of interior, cabinet, information and broadcasting and security agencies would be part of the body that would operate within the parametres set out in the Amended Telecom Act 2006.
So, any one of the 1 million employees of these 5 agencies can block any website they don’t like. What fun! (ed: The security agencies alone probably have more than a million people on their payrolls..)
bq. It would evaluate and examine web material besides entertaining public requests for blocking websites and decide cases on merit and advise the Pakistan Telecommunication Authority to take appropriate action.
It is impossible to censor the internet, as I had “explained earlier here”:http://ko.offroadpakistan.com/pakistan/2006_03/internet_censorship_the_pakistani_way.html. The real question is, how long before the govt. keeps up and implements a whitelist of “approved sites” instead of a never ending blacklist. That way, they could make lots more money as internet surfers will be lining up miles deep to bribe their local official to please please open up their favourite website.
bq. The decision to constitute the committee to oversee obnoxious websites had been taken following a growing number of public grievances regarding objectionable and hateful material being displayed at various websites.
Educating the public about the internet is obviously a no go area for the govt, so they’ll try to sweep the whole issue under the carpet by claiming to censor the internet. They will completely and utterly fail in the process, but than that is par for most government schemes.
bq. A Deregulation Facilitation Unit had also been established to act as focal point for receiving public complaints and forwarding them to the committee for perusal and decision. The in-charge of the unit could be reached at telephone No 051-9212346.
Deregulation Facilitation Unit is such a nice word for Censorship Facilitation Unit. The very first thing they censored is the above mentioned telephone number. You can bet your booty that official govt. residences of the highups will get uncensored internet, while the rest of the country lives on a neutered connection.
No doubt, a “few misguided souls”:http://groups.google.com/group/AGABBIP will complain to the govt. about this censorship. They will be brushed off by some Minister explaning to them that now that the internet pipes have been cleaned up by the sainted Ministry of IT, everything will work faster and better! Heck, with this better, faster internet, we will now be able to watch the “dancing fountain of sewage”:http://ko.offroadpakistan.com/pakistan/2006_08/they_can_watch_dancing_sewage.html online direct from home! This will single handedly save the national exchequer millions of dollars, as citizens around the country will stop driving to the fountain and watch it on their moniters instead! There are of course, many other associated benefits, the minister will explain, but since he has to go censor playboy.com he’ll have to tell us all later.