PTA clarification

31 Jul 2020

Email

APROPOS ‘Boomers should leave the internet alone’ (Dawn Business and Finance, July 27), making reference to “moral policing” and “blanket bans” by Pakistan Telecommunication Authority.

The PTA has always acted in accordance with the provisions of the Prevention of Electronic Crimes Act (PECA, 2016) and relevant laws. The authority has been empowered under section 37 of PECA 2016 to block/remove unlawful online content. The previous and recent blockings of content and apps are well within the legal provisions. What here seems needed is a better understanding of the law on part of the writer.

Since the enactment of PECA in 2016, only a handful of cases have been filed for review before the authority or before the high courts. This shows that the process of removing illegal content is done in accordance with the law.

With regards to the PUBG ban, the Lahore High Court asked PTA to look into the issue and decide the matter after hearing the complainants. In the matter of public interest and transparency, PTA also solicited the views of the public and encouraged all to provide their feedback. The decision to block PUBG was taken after due consideration of law and the situation thereof.

Regarding AWS disruption, the ban on PUBG has been in place since July 10 whereas AWS users faced issues reportedly on July 23. Complaints received by operators from AWS users also show that they experienced intermittent accessibility issues and not a complete blockage of AWS IPs or services. This phenomenon was not specific to Pakistan only but users in other countries, including United States also experienced similar issues. Moreover, currently, PTA is not doing any VPN blocking, and the apprehensions are unfounded.

As for the writer’s views about the authority members’ credentials, they not only hold advance relevant qualifications but also extensive experience and knowledge about the ICT sector and technology. They fully realise that the digital connectivity is critical to the social and economic benefit of Pakistan. PTA remains committed to its endeavour for a Digital Pakistan.

Khurram Ali Mehran
Director, PR, PTA
Islamabad

Published in Dawn, July 31st, 2020