Govt blocks over 500 porn sites | The Daily Star
12:03 AM, December 28, 2016 / LAST MODIFIED: 03:07 AM, December 28, 2016

Govt blocks over 500 porn sites

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The government has started an initiative to block several hundred pornography websites and already sent a list of more than 500 sites, mostly locally hosted, to internet providers.

The Bangladesh Telecommunication Regulatory Commission on Monday evening sent the list to all the mobile phone operators, international gateway operators, international internet gateway operators, interconnection exchange operators, internet service providers and other telecom service providers to block the domains from their respective networks.

After receiving the list the operators have started to comply with the directive. However, a few of the websites could not be blocked immediately due to technical challenges, said BTRC officials.

The government actually wants to create massive awareness about the issue and as much hurdle as possible in browsing those sites, said Tarana Halim, state minister for post and telecommunications division, over phone yesterday.

“Initially we have decided to block around 500 websites that contain pornography, obscene pictures and video contents. In the first phase we will go for blocking the locally hosted sites,” added Tarana.

The Daily Star has obtained a copy of an email that contained a list of 510 websites branded as pornographic by an offensive online content control committee. The BTRC has directed the operators to block those sites.

About 70 to 80 percent of the pornography sites, operated from overseas, would also be blocked in phases, Tarana observed.

“We are trying to impose some restrictions and trying to create hurdles for random pornographic site browsing, particularly for those who are under 18,” Tarana added.

The telecom division also plans to tag with the information ministry to launch a massive awareness programme targeting guardians and teenagers.

MA Hakim, president of the Internet Service Providers Association Bangladesh, said they had got a letter from BTRC and were complying with it.

“We take bandwidth from the IIG's and IIG operators and have already blocked those sites. For double protection we have also taken some other measures,” Hakim added.

Pornography creates massive problems in our society and the telecom division had taken it as a challenge, said Tarana.

Earlier on November 28, Tarana conducted a meeting with the BTRC, law-enforcement agencies, ICT division, telecom department and information ministry officials to discuss the issue and formed a committee to find out a way to detect porn sites.

In its investigation the committee found some sites that contain different e-commerce products side by side with some pornographic contents. The committee could not decide about those sites, said a member of the committee.

In its first meeting the committee fixed three targets including blocking porn websites in the first phase. Now the committee is fixing the next course of action, the minister added.

“We want to follow good practices exercised in different countries in this regard,” she said.

The government has no intention to prepare any list of porn site visitors, which is technically impossible, as it is bound and committed to protecting privacy of every citizen, she added.

The High Court last year directed the government to stop pornography and obscene pictures from being uploaded and shared through mobile phones and social media including Facebook and Twitter.

Top officials of different operators said a few years ago BTRC also took some initiative to block pornographic websites and detected and blocked around 80 such sites.

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