Hamas Orders Porn Websites Blocked in Gaza Strip
PALESTINE — Hamas, the Islamic Palestinian political party that rules the Gaza Strip will ban porn sites beginning in September.
The government's Ministry of Communications' Osama al-IssawI said the action is being taken to “protect the fabric of society,” according to YnetNews.com.
Gaza’s top 10 ISPs were asked to block adult sites starting on Sept. 1. After that date violators will be punished under Palestinian communications and penal law, according to Ministry licensing head Kamal al-Masr.
This isn’t Hamas’s first attempt at blocking porn in the region. In 2008 a similar action was conducted but it primarily proved to be a public relations campaign with little teeth.
However, a study by the U.S. and Canada-based university coalition Open Net, revealed that ISP PalTel was successful in blocking some adult sites.
But now al-Masr said the government is responding to complaints from parents and teachers, and maintained that it’s not the Ministry that’s asking for the ban, but simply asking ISPs to implement safe international content standards.
Last April, the Palestinian Authority was succesful in filtering nine websites that were critical of the President, although the plan was scrapped in May.
But the decision to block porn has created a buzz of controversy on Palestinian online forums from the Gaza Strip.
Although some surfers are in favor of the blockade, many question the government’s power to regulate the web and point out the technical workarounds available to savvy users. “With all due respect, there are an abundance of methods to bypass any blocked website, even if it is immoral,” one post said.