PTA Starts Registration of Social Media Companies for Regulating Online Content

The Pakistan Telecommunication Authority (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 the 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.

Social Media Company having half a million users requires separate registration for each application/service. Form shall be submitted through e-mail as well as through postal address. PTA may seek additional information if required. The Social Media Company shall immediately notify Authorized Compliance Officer and Grievance Officer details in case of any change, PTA added.

According to the registration forms, the social media company will be required to give the company name, type of service/application, website, the number of users in Pakistan (at the time of registration), country of origin, company authorization letter (to be attached with this form), and authorized 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 Rs. 500 million, if it fails to remove or block access to the online content or to comply with the directions.

These rules bind the social media companies to remove or block access to online content — considered necessary in the interest of the glory of Islam, security, public order, decency and morality, and integrity or defence of Pakistan. Further, the rules provide for safeguards, processes, and mechanisms for the exercise of powers by the Authority under the Act for the removal of or blocking access to unlawful online content through any information system.

The new rules have relaxed the earlier condition of establishing an 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and Blocking of Unlawful Online Content (Procedure, Oversight and Safeguards), Rules 2020” hereinafter called the repealed rules, are hereby repealed.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 the flow, or disseminate 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.

Source: Pro Pakistani