Pakistan has ordered its cell phone service providers to monitor all text messages sent in the country for “obscenities” and prevent delivery of any that contain at least one of over a thousand Urdu and English words.
The order compels service providers to prevent any messages containing sexually explicit terms, as well as words like gay, lesbian, idiot, fart, headlights, Jesus Christ, butt, and tampon, as well as dozens ending with the suffix -ass.
According to the notification the order enacts a 1996 law allowing “false, fabricated, indecent or obscene” messages from being sent through the country’s information networks.
The order was made by Pakistan’s communications regulator, who said it was part of the organisation’s efforts to block spam messages across the mobile network. In the letter the regulator said that while the country’s constitution protects freedom of speech, such freedom was “not unrestricted.”
It added that the list is not finished and will be added to in the future.
The regulator has said it will monitor the number of blocked sms messages sent on a monthly basis, and will compel Pakistan’s mobile service providers to provide this data.
The country’s mobile operators have seven days to comply with the law. It is expected that they will be fined for each delivered sms which contains a proscribed word. Users who send a large number of messages with offensive terms will be cut off.