In an effort to put an end to unregistered social media companies in Pakistan, the Pakistan Telecommunication Authority has recommended taking action against them. In accordance with a document issued by the PTA, the Authority has approached the Ministry of Information Technology and Telecommunication (MoITT) for guidance and advice on how to proceed with further action against non-compliant social media platforms, according to the document.
It is reported by PTA that all major social media platforms such as Facebook, Twitter, YouTube, etc., have not responded positively to repeated directions from the Authority regarding registration under Social Media Rules 2021 despite repeated requests from the Authority. In accordance with the laws of Pakistan, social media platforms do not consider themselves obligated to entertain requests from users for blocking specific content based on legitimate requests. In regard to the most sensitive blasphemous content, the response of some social media platforms is very weak.
PTA has suggested that no public sector entity (federal or provincial) should participate in any initiative that involves unregistered social media platforms in the case of any public sector initiative. There have also been suggestions from the PTA that the federal government issue instructions to all relevant regulators such as the FBR, the State Bank, and the SECP in order to stop local registered companies from doing business with non-registered and non-compliant social media companies.
The PTA has recommended that, before engaging in any sort of social media engagement, the concerned entity should first check with PTA about the compliance of relevant platforms with reference to the Social Media Rules, before engaging with social media platforms. As a result, PTA will direct its licensees to stop facilitating/advertising on non-compliant platforms on social media in the future.
Also, the Authority has proposed that in the event that the companies still do not comply with registration and removal requirements for reported unlawful content, especially blasphemous content, then notices should be issued to the social media companies, as well as fines imposed under the new Social Media Rules if the companies are still not complying.
In accordance with advice from the PTA, periodic degradation of services for noncompliant platforms should be carried out under Rule 5(7)(ii)(a). Nonetheless, if a company continues to be non-compliant despite these notices and penalties it will be necessary to block the entire online system as a last resort as per Rule 5(7)(ii)(b).