Government expresses intent to regulate Content Delivery Networks, particularly Cloudflare, that is alleges serve pornographic content
Prime Minister Imran Khan on Thursday directed authorities to implement “effective” gatekeeping methods to prevent Pakistan’s youth from accessing immoral and pornographic content online.
“We need to protect our youth, especially kids, from being exposed to immoral and unethical content available online,” he was quoted as saying during a meeting to review measures on blocking pornographic websites. According to a statement issued by the Prime Minister’s Office, he stressed that effective gatekeeping of online content was essential to “shield innocent brains against the ruthless onslaught of immoral and pornographic content” online.
“Character building is very crucial in modern tech-savvy era,” he said. “The proliferation of tech gadgets and 3G/4G internet technology has made all sort of content available to everyone,” he said, echoing earlier statements in which he has alleged that “obscenity” online is responsible for the rise of sex crimes such as rape and sexual abuse in Pakistan.
During the meeting, the prime minister was briefed on Content Delivery Networks, which are aimed at reducing website loading times and protecting against threats such as identity theft. According to the Prime Minister’s Office, the premier was informed that 1-2 percent of total internet traffic share is passed through popular CDN Cloudflare, which reportedly serves pornographic content. Other CDNs, claimed officials, don’t serve pornographic material. Cloudflare is also utilized by several popular news sites, including Thomson-Reuters and blogging platform Medium.
“The prime minister was also informed that [the Pakistan Telecommunication Authority] needs to work with ISPs/CDNs for blocking of pornographic content through CDNs, particularly Cloudfare,” read the statement. It said PTA also needed to enhance its Warehouse Management System capability by integrating with a regularly updated database of pornographic sites to block them at both URL and domain levels.
According to the P.M.’s Office, official informed Khan that the PTA was working on feasibility for blocking pornographic websites and it implementation time was about 2 months.
The prime minister has repeatedly voiced his concerns with online pornographic content, most recently on Tuesday during a Rehmatullil Alameen conference in Islamabad. Stressing that children couldn’t be barred from social media or mobile phones “by force”, he said: “Although there is no compulsion in religion, we can show them the right way. We can, at least, train our children and talk to them about the bad effects of [Western] culture.”