Pakistan Telecommunication Authority (PTA) has blamed major social media platforms i.e. Facebook, Twitter, and YouTube for not responding positively to register themselves under “Registration of Significant Social Media Companies under Rules, 2021, sources informed ProPakistani.
Official documents available with ProPakistani revealed that under the said Rules, so far 5 significant media platforms have completed the registration process and are now registered as Significant Social Media Companies (SSMC) in Pakistan.
The registered SSMC included Joyo Technology Pakistan (Private) Limited (Snackvideo), Bigo Service Pakistan (Private) Limited (BIGO Live, Likee), and Micro World Limited (YoHo, MICO).
However, all major social media platforms Facebook, Twitter, YouTube, etc have not responded positively to the repeated direction of the Authority w.r.t. registration under Rules 2021.
PTA further stated that the Rules 201 have been challenged before the Islamabad High Court and are pending adjudication. Additionally, WP No. 1579/2022 titled “Farhatullah Babar Vs FoP, etc ” has been filed before the Islamabad High Court wherein section 37 of PECA is challenged.
The Prime Minister’s office vide its notification dated 23rd June 2022 has reconstituted the National Social Media Coordination Working Group (NSMCWG) under the Chairmanship of the Law Minister with the mandate to review PECA along with Rules 2021 and come up with recommendations to bring the said Act and Rules in conformity with Constitution of Pakistan and existing laws.
The working group in the last meeting held on 7th Sep 2022 constituted a sub-committee to review the Rules 2021 and submit its recommendations w.r.t amendments in the said rules.
The Social Media platforms do not consider themselves obligated to entertain the requests for blocking in accordance with the Laws of Pakistan. They encourage the aggrieved users to directly report the issues to them. However, for the purpose of streamlining the procedures, several meetings with Facebook, YouTube and TikTok have been convened.
Considering the request of the PTA, a dedicated resource has been notified by Facebook for effective coordination with PTA. Similarly, YouTube has also launched a country version for Pakistan. During the recent meetings with senior representatives of YouTube, the platform has assured special checks on hate speech, contempt of court, and blasphemous content.
PTA, under section 37 of the Prevention of Electronic Crime Act 2016, reports unlawful online content to different Social Media platforms including Twitter.
A total of 67,166 links were forwarded containing unlawful content out of which only 34,010 links have been blocked to date which is around 50.64 percent of the requests submitted for blocking. It is also important to highlight that the blocking percentage is based on the violation of Twitter’s own Community Standards and not in pursuance of the Legal provisions of Pakistan.
PTA has tried to actively engage with Twitter by convening multiple meetings with its senior management for the purpose of improving the working arrangement by developing a mechanism for blocking unlawful content in accordance with Pakistani laws as well as community guidelines.
However, compared to other social media platforms, the response of Twitter is not encouraging. It is worth mentioning that w.r.t most sensitive issue of blasphemous content to which the response of the Twitter platform is weak, PTA has approached MoIT for seeking guidance and to advise further course of action against such Non-compliant platforms.