Gulf News, February 17, 2003 MMA wants to close down cyber cafes Lahore |By Abdullah Iqbal | 17-02-2003 At a time when, on the orders of the federal minister for information technology, the Pakistan Telecommunications Corporation Ltd (PTCL) is filtering the Internet for anti-Pakistan and pornographic material, resulting in drastically reduced speed for Internet Service Providers (ISPS) and users across the country, the Muttahida Majlis-e-Amal (MMA) said it would like to see cyber cafes banned. With home computers still in limited use because of their cost, most Internet users rely on cafes, which now exist in even small towns and villagers. As such, a closure of these cafes would drastically reduce Internet usage. Commenting on this, a spokesman for the MMA in Lahore said: "We think in cafes the Internet is not used for education, but only for recreation or immoral activity, so this would not adversely impact anyone." He also held that while the move to filter the Internet was "good" it was not enough and more needed to be done. With information technology experts already warning that the PTCL attempts to filter the Internet will "never be entirely successful" and will only "hamper users and companies due to poor connectivity and speed," they fear more moves against Internet usage will affect the IT industry "even more negatively". One web-developer, Adam Hasan, said: "Already we are suffering due to these misguided censorship efforts which will never work and now the MMA wants to make things still worse." Last week, the MMA-led government banned children from entering cyber cafes in Balochistan. At a meeting with Internet cafe owners, Minister for Information and Local Government in Balochistan, Hafiz Hussain Ahmed Sharodi, ordered that entry of children should be strictly prohibited to protect them from exposure to pornographic websites on the Internet. He warned that the government would take stringent action against cafe owners found guilty of violating the ban. A similar ban is expected in the NWFP, where the MMA is in government, while the coalition is also pressurising governments in the other provinces to enforce the restriction on children and to discourage Internet use. According to a recent survey, Pakistan boasts around three million regular Internet users. More than 1,000 cities and small towns in Pakistan have been enjoying access to the Net as of June 2002. Apart from e-mail and chatting, pornographic material and film sites on the web were the biggest draw among all age groups. ========== HURIDOCS-Tech listserv ========== Send mail intended for the list to <firstname.lastname@example.org>. Archives of the list can be found at: http://www.hrea.org/lists/huridocs-tech/markup/maillist.php To subscribe to the list, send a message to <email@example.com>, with the following text in the message: subscribe huridocs-tech To unsubscribe from the list, send a message to <firstname.lastname@example.org>, with the following text in the message: unsubscribe huridocs-tech If you have problems (un)subscribing, contact <email@example.com>.
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