ISLAMABAD: The Standing Committee on Information Technology and Telecommunications has directed the Pakistan Telecommunications Authority and the NADRA to bring a plan of action to stop the illegally-issued mobile SIMs.
The Committee expressed its concern on the indifferent attitude of both the departments for not complying with its directions after lapse of considerable time. The Standing Committee on Information Technology and Telecommunication met with Ali Khan Jadoon, MNA in the chair.
The Committee was apprised that the PTA had introduced stringent measures to check the illegal issuance of SIMs and the problems had been considerably reduced. The PTA representative informed that the PTA had also taken punitive action against mobile operators, whose sales centres or franchises were found involved in issuance of the SIMs without fulfilling mandatory requirements and verification.
The Committee was not satisfied with the reply; therefore, directed the PTA and the NADRA to bring a plan of action before the Committee within 15 days. The Committee also decided to call the Federal Investigation Agency (FIA) in the next meeting of the Committee to discuss issues related to cybercrimes.
The Committee observed that the FIA was lagging behind in curbing cybercrimes due to its capacity issues. The Committee also decided to call the Ministry of Information and Broadcasting in its next meeting to discuss Media Development Authority Ordinance.
Some of the committee members expressed their concerns on the Ordinance and termed it an attempt to contain the growth of social media. The Committee, while discussing the Calling Attention Notice moved Chaudhry Faqir Muhammad, MNA regarding failure of the PTA to curb pornography, blasphemous content, and hate speech on social media.
The mover contended that the PTA had not been able to stop such content, which had destroyed the social fabric and also created intolerance in the society. The PTA representative apprised that the authority had taken stringent measures to block such content, however due to technological constraints and limitation, the content hosted by the websites offshore, action cannot be taken.
He apprised that the PTA was constantly in touch with all social media platforms and actions were taken time to time. He said that action had been initiated against violators under cybercrime laws. When asked if some pornographic websites are running, while anti-religious content is coming, what is being done to stop it? The PTA member Khawar Khokhar told the committee that under the PECA law, the PTA blocked the content and the FIA is investigating.
We have given access to 38 agencies for registering complaint and we will remove the content. All pornographic sites in Pakistan are closed. Related sites from outside are being shut on our complaint. All the objectionable content is on platforms that are not in Pakistan.
"We cannot block a site outside Pakistan," said the member, adding that YouTube was a secure site and they did not have the ability to block a link on YouTube, but could shut down YouTube. "We send our complaint to YouTube, Twitter or Facebook and they remove it again but they do not have to comply with.
"We are talking with YouTube and Twitter and Facebook to keep their representatives in Pakistan, if their representative is in Pakistan, it will be easier to implement it."
The federal secretary IT told the committee that social media rules have been made, a committee was set up to review them, the rules are being revised and they have been sent to the Law Division. The chairman of the standing committee directed the ministry to submit a report every three months on blocking blasphemous and obscene material.
The Committee suspended discussion on, The Pakistan Telecommunication (Re-Organization) (Amendment) Bill, 2020 and The Electronic Transactions (Amendment) Bill, 2019 moved by Amjid Ali Khan, MNA, till its next meeting.
The meeting was attended by MNAs; Sahibzada Sibghatullah, Sher Ali Arbab, Makhdoom Zain Hussain Qureshi, Muhammad Abdul Ghafar Wattoo, Muhammad Aslam Khan, Nusrat Wahid, Muhammad Hashim, Ali Gohar Khan, Romina Khurshid Alam, Maiza Hameed, Shamim Ara Panhwar, Mahesh Kumar Malani, Naz Baloch, Syed Mehmood Shah, Choudhary Faqir Ahmad, MNA/Mover, Secretary Ministry of Information Technology and Telecommunication, and other officers of the concerned departments.
Copyright Business Recorder, 2021