Why banning Blue Whale game is not easy

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Mon, 23 Apr 2018 - 02:05 GMT

Screenshot of Blue Whale Challenge

Screenshot of Blue Whale Challenge

CAIRO – 23 April 2018: The National Telecom Regulatory Authority (NTRA) assured that banning all websites and platforms that allow access to suicide-encouraging games like the Blue Whale is not an easy task, in response to the orders of Attorney General Nabil Sadek to take necessary measures to ban them.

Khalid Sherif, board member of the NTRA, asserted the possibility of blocking the websites and platforms that include the Blue Whale game in the state, but at the same time it’s impossible to close the whole game completely, and so teenagers still can access the game through other means.

He pointed out to Egypt Today, “It’s possible to block the websites that allow access to Blue Whale game by IP address, but still it can be circumvented by teenagers.”

“Blocking is not that effective since many blocked websites have pages on social media that they can be accessed through. Moreover, it is possible to apply means to circumvent the block, like proxy or VPN services,” cybersecurity expert Adel Abdel Moneim told Egypt Today.

“It is not only Blue Whale that threatens the teenagers; there are many other games like this horrifying game,” he added, asserting that the solution is not only in banning, but the country should focus more in diffusing awareness and raising education.

The top prosecutor explained his decision that such games are dangerous to the lives of youth and teenagers.

“Those games target the young people, incite them to commit suicide and hurt their beloved ones, which threatens the safety of the Egyptian family and the national security as well,” the attorney general’s statement reads.

Sherief Abdelbaky, head of the Egyptian Federation for Electronic Games, stated on April 5 that blocking any site or game needs high technical capabilities and he suggested providing support and strong local game alternatives.

His statement came as a reply to demands calling for the blocking of the Blue Whale game after it allegedly claimed the life of the son of former Egyptian MP Hamdy al-Fakharany and others.

Known as the Blue Whale Challenge, the game requires players to go through 50 dangerous tasks over the course of 50 days. The tasks often begin with self-harm, leading up to the final challenge, which is suicide.

Egypt’s Dar al-Ifta, the Sunni Islamic institute concerned with fatwa (Islamic edict) issuance, has religiously forbidden playing the Blue Whale game, which pushes children to commit suicide.

In its new fatwa, Dar al-Ifta clarified the reasons for banning this deadly game, mentioning that the player commits illegal actions.

“The users are asked to cut themselves with a sharp weapon such as a needle or a knife, and this act is religiously forbidden. The preservation of a person’s life is one of the most important purposes in Islam,” the fatwa read.

Egyptian writer Ghada Abdel Aal has launched an alternative charitable game called the Green Whale, which requires players to go through daily charitable challenges, countering the effects of the horrifyingly dangerous game, the Blue Whale.

The game assigns 30 charitable acts that need to be completed before Ramadan, varying from helping a person to cross the street, to feeding animals, making children happy, raising funds to save a woman debtor from going to prison and visiting orphanages.

Despite the awareness campaigns that have been raised recently in media outlets against the deadly online game, Beheira governorate has seen another case of an Egyptian teenager committing suicide after playing the game, putting into question the effectiveness of these campaigns.

The 12-year-old Egyptian child committed suicide by taking poisonous pills on Thursday. The case was linked to the Blue Whale game after initial investigations showed that the Blue Whale-shaped sign was carved onto his arm.

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