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ISLAMABAD: The Pakistan Telecommunications Authority (PTA), Wednesday, submitted its reply in an audio leaks case. A single bench of IHC Justice Babar Sattar has been hearing a petition moved by Najamul Saqib, son of former chief justice Mian Saqib Nisar.

The petitioner cited the Federation of Pakistan through the secretary Ministry of Parliamentary Affairs and the speaker National Assembly and the chairman of the Special Committee as respondents and challenged a Special Committee constituted by the speaker National Assembly to audit, inquire into, and investigate audio leaks involving him.

The PTA’s reply stated that it does not have the capacity or capability to identify the person who leaked audio recordings on social media.

It further stated that the applicable laws do not vest any such jurisdiction or authority/ capacity in the respondent (PTA) to identify the source of the alleged audio leak.

The PTA report also said that under Section 20 (malicious code) of the Prevention of Electronic Crimes Act (PECA), 2016, an aggrieved person may approach the authority for blocking of content that harms the reputation or privacy of a person.

It stated that the law also empowered the PTA to remove such content if it is in the interest of Islam, security or defence of Pakistan, public order, decency or morality or in relation to contempt of court.

The reply continued that the removal and blocking of unlawful content is regulated rules under PECA namely, the Removal and Blocking of Unlawful Online Content (Procedure, Oversight and Safeguard) Rules, 2021.

It added that the complaints filed under these rules are first analysed and approved and then steps are taken to remove the content by approaching the social media operator or through technical action against their services.

The authority informed the court that social media operators provide official channels with regulators for raising requests, but they too follow their own community guidelines. Therefore, any request that is not in line with these guidelines may not be accepted.

Regarding technical action, the PTA stated that the internet traffic of the telecom operator flowing to servers can be monitored for technical reasons such as blocking content. However, this option is limited because of the technology in play.

It further said that Section 29 (retention of traffic data) of PECA provides for the establishment of an investigation agency and this task has been given to the Federal Investigation Agency through its Cyber Crime Wing.

At the end, it said that Sections 51 of PECA provides for the powers of the federal government to make rules for carrying out the purposes of PECA.

Copyright Business Recorder, 2023

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