KARACHI: As millions of gamers trended #ImranKhanPUBGKholo on Twitter, the Pakistan Telecommunication Authority (PTA) has issued a detailed order explaining the reasons behind blocking of online game PlayerUnknown’s Battle Ground (PUBG).
Last week, the Islamabad High Court (IHC) had declared PTA’s move to temporarily suspend the online game void and directed the authority to immediately lift the ban. The decision was announced in a short order issued by Justice Amir Farooq. A detailed judgement will be issued later.
However, the PTA said PUBG would remain blocked in Pakistan.
In a press release issued on Monday, the PTA said it had issued a detailed order explaining the reasons why it had blocked the online game in accordance with the provisions of the Pakistan Electronic Crimes Act (Peca) 2016. “The PTA provided an opportunity of hearing to concerned parties including PUBG’s lawyers. PTA has also approached PUBG management to inform about a suitable framework to address key concerns,” it added.
The authority said it had not received a response from PUBG so far.
IHC last week ordered authority to lift ban on online game
In the order dated July 23, a copy of which is available with Dawn, the PTA discussed its jurisdiction under Peca to block online content, the impact of the ban on e-sports and the “negative effects” of the online game on mental health of the players, especially children/teenage players.
Under Section 37 of Peca, the PTA said it was empowered to remove or block or issue directives for removal or blocking of access to an information through any information system if it considered it necessary in the interest of “public order, decency or morality”. The element of “morality” had also been applied on PUBG, it added.
While examining the applications/requests received by the PTA, it found that the impact of PUBG is leading to the issue of “moral turpitude”. The term moral turpitude connotes anything done against just, honesty, modesty or good morals. It is deprivation of character and devoid of morality, the order states.
The PTA said it had come across various studies, papers and reports regarding the impact of internet games, specifically PUBG, on the mental as well as physical health of the players. Besides violence and addiction, the authority said PUBG made people less productive.
“Sitting around in one place and playing for long hours is not good for physical health. Staring at the computer screen for long hours can affect eyesight and cause a headache,” the order states.
The academic performance of students was affected as gaming sessions tend to last longer, and a child, who is addicted to gaming, tends to get irritated at the smallest of things or if parents interfere in something, it notes.
The authority said as far as concerns related to revenue generated by e-sports were concerned, it had asked PUBG to share the details of its earnings from Pakistan.
The details sought include prize money won by the Pakistani players and number of tournaments organised during the last one year. PUBG, it said, was not registered as an entity under the laws of Pakistan and there were no contractual arrangements or obligation between the parties.
The PTA said there were negative as well as perverse tendencies inherent in any human being. “The online phenomenon such as PUBG, bring this out. The Authority cannot ignore various aspects as mentioned above and sit back waiting for something to happen,” it added.
The authority said it considered it “necessary” to block PUBG being against the interest of public order. “In exercise of powers conferred under Section 37 of Peca, 2016, the Authority hereby orders that accessibility of PUBG will remain blocked in Pakistan,” it concluded.
Published in Dawn, July 28th, 2020