19 Nov 2011

Ban ordered on offensive words in texts

8:20 am on 19 November 2011

The Pakistan Telecommunications Authority has told mobile phone operators in the country to start blocking texts containing offensive words.

The agency has compiled a list of more than 1000 words and phases banned in both English and Urdu.

Included are seemingly innocuous words like flatulence and fondle; there are eight obscenities involving the word foot.

Telecoms officials say they have a duty to prevent obnoxious communications.

Some mobile companies have said that implementation of the ban would affect as much as 40% of their revenue.

The BBC reports the screening has to begin by 21 November.

The PTA told The Guardian newspaper that the ban was a reaction to consumers' complaints of receiving offensive text messages.

An unconfirmed version of the PTA's list is being circulated online.

Some people have suggested bypassing the ban by replacing words with their number on the list.

Some 100 million people in Pakistan are estimated to be mobile phone users.