06/27/2022

PTA Unveils System To Block ‘Immoral Content’ Online

April 15, 2022 – The Pakistan Telecommunication Authority (PTA) has introduced a system that will block immoral content online, states a press release dated April 12.

The PTA has set up a Central Domain Name System (CDN-S) that will block pornographic and indecent content as specified in Section 37 of the Prevention of Electronic Crimes Act, also known as PECA. Earlier this week, the FIA closed around 7,000 complaints lodged under Section 20 of the recently struck down PECA Amendment Ordinance 2022. 

“Pakistan Telecommunication Authority (PTA) has implemented the Central Domain Name System (C-DNS) policy enforcement mechanism to ensure the automated effective and seamless blocking of unlawful content in real-time.”

The CDN-S mechanism took what the PTA has called months of joint efforts and coordination with the telecom industry and other stakeholders. It was inaugurated at PTA headquarters in Islamabad.

With the introduction of the new CDN-S system, PTA has set up a mechanism that will enable it to block content on its own without having the need to request service providers to block “objectionable” content. Earlier, through the controversial Social Media Rules, the authority has attempted to make social media companies compliant with demands like taking action against live videos on online platforms. The clause was challenged by civil society and global technology companies that said that Social Media Rules will make it difficult for these companies to provide services in Pakistan.

The PTA has a history of attracting outrage from a large number of free speech defenders and content creators for banning the popular Chinese-owned short video sharing application TikTok several times, citing “immoral and indecent” content. The authority first blocked access to TikTok in October 2020. 

TikTok was unblocked 10 days later after its parent company ByteDance agreed to remove “objectionable” content from being accessed in Pakistan. In July 2021, a ban was imposed on the app for the fourth time before being lifted in November the same year.

In July 2020, the PTA also blocked live video streaming smartphone application Bigo Live over “immoral, obscene and vulgar content”.

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