The Pakistan Telecommunication Authority is finding it difficult to regulate content because all the popular social media platforms are hosted outside Pakistan.

A lack of undertaking by these platforms, especially in blasphemous/sectarian, decency and immorality, and defamatory content, is also not entertained in the majority of the cases.

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This was revealed by the Pakistan Telecommunication Authority’s (PTA) Director Web Analysis and Content Management, Mohammad Farooq, as he briefed the media today.

He said that a total of 1,114,001 URL blocking complaints on platforms such as Dailymotion, Facebook, Instagram, Twitter, TikTok, YouTube, and other miscellaneous platforms have been processed, and 1,046,036 URLs have been blocked so far.

Farooq added that there are issues with content regulation, citing the fact that all the popular social media platforms are hosted from outside Pakistan. The response from social media platforms is usually in accordance with their own community guidelines and not in compliance with the laws of Pakistan. As per the law, the PTA has a responsibility to protect citizens from online harm in accordance with its local laws and societal norms.

The federal government had declared the Rules that are required under Section 37 (2) of the Prevention of Electronic Crimes Act (PECA), 2016, in October 2020 but they were challenged in the Islamabad High Court.

The Rules are currently under review by a committee constituted by the Prime Minister of Pakistan.

In order to fulfil the mandate that was assigned to it under Section 37 of PECA, 2016, the PTA established a dedicated Web Analysis Cell to block/remove unlawful online content in Pakistan, including content against the integrity, security, or defence of Pakistan (anti-state), against the glory of Islam (blasphemy), hate speech (public order), decency and morality (pornography), contempt of court, and defamation/impersonation.

The PTA has also devised a Standard Operating Procedure for lodging complaints, the details of which are given below:

Complaints by Stakeholder Organizations.
An online e-portal provided to stakeholder organizations to lodge complaints. There are currently 38 stakeholders using this portal.
Anyone can lodge a complaint about unlawful online content via email to [email protected] or through the Complaint Management System (CMS) at https://complaint.pta.gov.pk/RegisterComplaint.aspx
By analysing and processing complaints, the PTA is also proactively searching for and blocking links that have blasphemous and pornographic content or are against Pakistan’s security and defence.