Wednesday September 22, 2021

PTA finds it hard to regulate social media content: chairman

PTA finds it hard to regulate social media content: chairman

ISLAMABAD: Pakistan Telecommunication Authority (PTA) Chairman Major (R) General Amir Azeem Bajwa hoped that the social media giants won’t exit Pakistan because this market was growing at faster pace.

“Pakistan’s market is among the top 10 in the world and we want to use it for the benefit of everyone. Social media companies should respect our laws too,” the PTA chairman said while briefing reporters on the overall prevailing situation of the telecom sector with focus on regulatory framework here Monday.

When asked about the prevalence of dark web, the PTA chairman replied that it was a global challenge and there were ways to tackle this arising problem. He said the PTA was working on it to fix this problem. He said the regulator was finding it difficult to regulate content because all social media platforms were being hosted from outside Pakistan.

Presentations were given by the heads of various divisions and the PTA officials said lack of undertaking by the social media platforms related to blasphemous and sectarian contents, decency and immorality and defamatory content, is also not entertained in majority of the cases.

Different heads of respective wings of PTA gave briefing to the media and said the response from social media platforms was usually in accordance with their own community guidelines and not in compliance with the laws of Pakistan. As per the law, the PTA has a responsibility to protect citizens from online harm in accordance with its local laws and societal norms.

PTA chairman was asked about the issues related to the quality of telecom services in the country. The media was informed that the Complaint Management System (CMS) of the PTA was launched in 2010 and it was upgraded in 2020 so its primary focus was to facilitate telecom consumers to lodge complaints and the processing and redress of consumer grievances. During November 2018 to September 2021 480,865 public complaints were received by the PTA and 238,656 were resolved.

The PTA has also launched an automated Lost and Stolen Device System (LSDS) for blocking of lost, stolen and snatched mobile phones in April 2021, and of 9,963 blocking/unblocking requests were received at the system, and 9,409 IMEIs were blocked and 554 were restored. However, PTA chairman conceded that IMEI cloning was a challenge that needs to be eradicated.

“Some people in the local markets try to replace the IMEI numbers and we have devised methods to block that, but there is a need to create awareness among the general public to stay away from such practices, as they would be the ultimate losers in case of blocking of their phones,” he added.

He also talked about new measures taken to improve the coverage area and quality of telephony and broadband services, but added that the mobile companies too had limitations as Pakistan was a low-end market, where the Average Revenue Per User (APRU) was between Rs200 and Rs250.