The PTA rules that it is necessary to block PUBG in the interest of public order
The Pakistan Telecommunication Authority (PTA) in its detailed order, issued on Monday, said the popular online game, PlayerUnknown’s Battlegrounds (PUBG), is “highly addictive” and a “wastage of time" and will not be unblocked.
After holding a consultative meeting with citizens, government officials and the company, Proxima Beta Ptv. Ltd, the authority released a detailed order on July 23.
In the order, the PTA ruled that it was necessary to block the online game in the interest of public order. “The game is highly addictive, destroying youth, wastage of time and has a negative impact on physical and psychological health,” the 11-page report read.
The authority added that it was empowered under section 37 of the Prevention of Electronic Crimes Act, 2016, to remove or block access to information if it considers it necessary in “the interest of the glory of Islam, the integrity, security or defence of Pakistan or…public order, decency or morality”.
While admitting that there is in fact no exact definition of “decency” and “morality”, the PTA explained that it used the terms in a general sense and considered the “principles of ethics” and “right conduct” when deciding to ban PUBG.
In June, the authority said, there had been reports of suicide in the media which “had potential” links to the PUBG game addiction. In addition, the Capital City Police Officer, Lahore, had written to the authority regarding the negative effects of online games, especially PUBG, and had further stated that there have been two incidents of suicide in District Lahore under influence of the said game.
Delving further into the debate of “morality”, the online regulator said it found the impact of PUBG an issue of “moral turpitude”. The PTA then defined “moral turpitude” as “anything done against just, honesty, modesty or good morals. It is deprivation of character and devoid of morality.”
The order also stated that while the Internet is meant to connect people, “there are negative as well as perverse tendencies inherent in any human being. The online phenomenon such as PUBG, brings this out”.
Last week, Science and Technology Minister Fawad Chaudhry had shared his thoughts about the ongoing "moral policing and ban approach" in Pakistan as the country pondered permanent bans on TikTok and PUBG and a day after the Chinese application was warned over "immoral, obscene and vulgar content".
Fawad said that it was not okay to go on banning apps left, right, and centre, as it would "destroy [Pakistani] tech industry".
He further highlighted how development in technology would "be permanently hampered" across Pakistan, a country that already lags significantly behind the world in terms of science and research.
The federal minister expressed his concern over how there was a consistent and "ill-advised interference in economic matters" that affected the country’s growth.