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Tuesday June 18, 2024

PTA told to ensure action against objectionable online content

By Jamal Khurshid
June 09, 2024
A view of the Pakistan Telecommunication Authority (PTA) building in Islamabad. — AFP/File
A view of the Pakistan Telecommunication Authority (PTA) building in Islamabad. — AFP/File

The Sindh High Court (SHC) has directed the Pakistan Telecommunication Authority (PTA) to ensure that legal action is taken against all the objectionable content posted on social media platforms either on receiving complaints or exercising suo motu authority as vested under the PTA Act and its rules.

The direction came during the hearing of a petition of Hasan Baig and others against unethical and objectionable material on social media platforms.

The PTA’s counsel said the Authority has submitted a detailed report with regard to action against objectionable and unethical social media platforms, adding that the petition can be disposed of on the basis of the report as it served its purpose.

The counsel said the PTA has taken action against objectionable websites, and blocked 91 per cent of them.

He said the PTA has the authority to take cognisance of its own motion of any online content and exercise its power for removing or blocking such content after providing the other side an opportunity of being heard. He said the Authority, therefore, also takes suo motu action.

The counsel said the PTA would continue discharging its legal obligation in accordance with the law and would take action against websites containing objectionable content.

An SHC division bench headed by Chief Justice Aqeel Ahmed Abbasi

said that in view of the PTA’s statement, the petition is disposed of, with direction to the PTA to ensure legal action against all objectionable online content.

The court had earlier directed the PTA to ensure the implementation of all the laws and rules relating to preventing, blocking and removing objectionable and illegal content online, and take necessary action against those responsible for spreading them.

The petitioners said that highly objectionable and indecent content has been uploaded on social media platforms that has been affecting social and cultural norms and values.

Their counsel Usman Farooq said the petitioners had lodged a complaint against social media platforms regarding vulgarity, abusive language/content but no action had been taken.

Farooq said that allowing unethical content on social media platforms is tantamount to spreading vulgarity in society, and it is also a violation of basic principles and injunctions of Islam.

The counsel said that unethical programmes on social media platforms defy the sanctity and pious atmosphere of a civilised society, and are contemptuous to Islamic values.

The Sindh High Court was further informed that such content injures the sentiments of a majority of the Muslim population and it is in fact a violation of their fundamental rights.

The high court was requested to direct the PTA to remove unlawful and unethical content from social media websites, and to ensure that no platform allows any objectionable posts, live or otherwise, against Islamic values.

The petitioners requested the high court to order the removal of all such social media accounts, pages and groups that spread unethical and vulgar content just for views and ratings.