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Pakistan Banning “Offensive” Words In Text Messages

flickr, Joi

Here in America, I suppose that we sometimes take for granted the fact that we can pretty much say whatever we want, even if it’s offensive, and file it under “freedom of speech”. That also extends to what we send to our friends and family via text message.

In some areas of the world, though, like Pakistan, freedom of speech doesn’t exist and extends as far as when you end and receive via your cell phone!

Starting yesterday, the government of Pakistan has instituted a ban on what they feel is offensive language while text messaging.

There are 1,600 words on the list, including many English words (1,109).  Now, a lot of the words have sexual connotations, but a lot of them do not. Some of the weirder words banned include: hostage, lesbian, homosexual, monkey crotch, flatulence, and Jesus Christ.

Mobile carriers began screening messages yesterday, though it is unclear if they are simply screening them, or turning offenders in to the authorities.

According to a letter sent by the Pakistani telecommunications authority to cell phone companies, the order is legal under a 1996 law preventing people from sending information through the telecommunications system that is “false, fabricated, indecent or obscene.”

It also states that free speech can be restricted “in the interest of the glory of Islam.”

Can you imagine if the US Government tried to pass such laws?

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