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ISLAMABAD: Two significant social media companies namely, Joyo Technology Pakistan (Pvt) Ltd (Snack Video) and BIGO Service Pakistan (Pvt) Ltd (BIGO Live, Likee) have registered with the Pakistan Telecommunication Authority (PTA) under the “Removal and Blocking of Unlawful Online Content (Procedure, Oversight and Safeguards) Rules, 2021”.

Significant social media companies are required to register with the PTA. In this context, Joyo Technology Pakistan (Pvt) Ltd (Snack Video) and BIGO Service Pakistan (Pvt) Ltd (BIGO Live, Likee) are the first to register with the PTA.

Representatives of the two companies attended the event, held on Friday at the PTA Headquarters, and completed the registration process. The companies were awarded the “Registration Certificates”.

The event was attended by the chairman and members of the authority besides representatives of the concerned technology companies and senior officials from the PTA. The PTA has started the registration of social media companies under “Removal and Blocking of Unlawful Online Content (Procedure, Oversight and Safeguards) Rules, 2021.”

The Ministry of Information Technology and Telecommunication has formulated the rules under Section 37 of Prevention of Electronic Crimes Act, 2016. According to the ministry’s notification, in exercise of powers conferred by sub-section (2) of sections 37 of the Prevention of Electronic Crimes Act, 2016, (XL of 2016), the federal government approved the rules prescribed by the PTA.

A social media company having half million users requires separate registration for each application/service. A social media company shall immediately notify authorised compliance officer and grievance officer details in case of any change, the PTA added.

According to the registration forms, the social media company will be required to give company name, type of service/application, website, number of users in Pakistan (at the time of registration), country of origin, company authorization letter (to be attached with this form), and authorised grievance officer details.

As per the rules, a significant social media company or a service provider would be degraded, blocked or imposed with a penalty of up to Rs500 million, if it fails to remove or blocked access to the online content or to comply with the directions.

These rules bind the social media companies to remove or block access to an online content - considered necessary in the interest of glory of Islam, security, public order, decency and morality, and integrity or defence of Pakistan.

Further the rules provide for safeguards, process and mechanism for exercise of powers by the authority under the Act for removal of or blocking access to unlawful online content through any information system.

The new rules have relaxed the earlier condition of establishing office in Pakistan within six months of the coming into force of rules and stated that upon the direction of the authority, establish an office in Pakistan, as and when feasible.

The rules stated that “the Removal and Blocking of Unlawful Online Content (Procedure, Oversight and Safeguards), Rules 2020” herein after called the repealed rules, are hereby repealed. The new rules shall apply only to those licensees, which provide social media or social network services.

The rules provided that the authority shall not restrict, disrupt flow or dissemination of any online content unless it considers it necessary for the reasons as prescribed in Section 37(1) of the Act subject to due process of law.

Copyright Business Recorder, 2022

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