The Pakistan Telecommunication Authority was so concerned about Pakistanis texting dirty words to eachother, they handed down a ban on over 1,600 words and phrases it has deemed as obscene.
On November 21, Pakistan's mobile operators deferred implementing the imposed ban on the so called “obscene” words from text messages‚ claiming they were seeking further clarification from the telecom authority.
Mobile carriers were issued a specific list of banned words and phrases on November 14 along with a letter giving them seven days to block the naughty words on their networks, or face legal action.
The absurd list included many common obscenities in addition to other words and phrases on the list like "floggin the dolphin", "ass clown", "boobies', "clam digger", "love pistol" and even the classic "bunghole" made popular by Beavis and Butthead in the early 1990's. Unfortunately for MTV, "butthead" also made the PTA's list of banned words.
PTA spokesperson Mohammad Younis Khan told Newsweek Pakistan that He acknowledged the “reservations” of telecoms companies and said the PTA was “ready to sort that out through mutual discussions.” That public statement came only after the ban was met with widespread scorn from telecoms operators along with their own threat of legal action.
“Obviously there are concerns and we have some reservations‚” said Omar Manzur‚ spokesman for Mobilink‚ the country’s leading telecoms operator. “This regulation will be implemented only after mutual agreement between the PTA and us. We should wait until the end of this discussion‚” Manzur told Newsweek.
A Twitter backlash broke out against the ban under hashtag #PTABannedList with a number of tweets including many of the banned words posted in direct defiance of the PTA's list. One woman, @candaceshaw summed up the fiasco perfectly with her own Tweet on Monday;
"The #PTAbannedlist is full of terms that even my perverse & irreligious imagination hadn't conceived. What a delightful, richly dirty list!"
Going forward, the PTA has plans to require mobile operators to submit a monthly report on their implementation of the ban. We intend to follow this international situation comedy as it evolves.