Urdu update here | English translation by Romessa Nadeem
The matter of what extent the Pakistan Telecommunication Authority (PTA) can use its power to block accounts by declaring them hateful or inappropriate is still pending in the Islamabad High Court (IHC) and all stakeholders have shown criticism of it. On the other hand, the pace and amount of PTA blocking accounts is increasing. The report submitted by the FIA in the IHC revealed that in the first six months of 2021 alone, 110 accounts were blocked through PTA, compared to the entire year of 2020 in which 167 accounts were blocked. According to the report, 28 inquiries have been launched this year, while 11 cases have been registered on social media in connection with accounts whose content was objectionable.
The report states that 47 reported accounts involved in hate speech were blocked. Last year, 42 inquiries and 44 cases of blasphemous content were also registered.
On the other hand, the number of blocked pages is much higher than the number of blocked accounts. If one looks at the reports submitted by the PTA in the IHC itself, it is clear that 95% of the total complaints received are resolved only by blocking the relevant pages. According to a report, PTA received more than 10 lac 29 thousand complaints, on which 981,000 pages were blocked by PTA. The highest amount of 8 lac 75 thousand pages was blocked for being inappropriate or immoral. More than 69,000 social media pages have been blocked for being anti-religious, 22,000 for hate speech and more than 23,000 for being against national defense.
By blocking pages or accounts, the PTA is supported by the controversial Social Media Rules, which stakeholders have questioned and objected. The IHC has already issued directions to amend the rules, which the government has agreed to.