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PTA Starts Registration of Social Media Companies for Removal of Unlawful Online Content

PTA Starts Registration of Social Media Companies for Removal of Unlawful Online Content

Pakistan Telecommunications Authority (PTA) has initiated the registration of social media companies in accordance with the “2020 Regulations on Removing and Blocking Illegal Online Content (Procedure, Supervision and Safeguard)”

Social media companies in Pakistan that have half a million or more users will need to register for every application / service they offer.

Platforms with more than half a million Pakistani users will have to register with the PTA and establish a registered office in the country within nine months of implementing the rules.

Within three months of setting up the office, a focal person must be appointed for coordination, and a data server system must be established within 18 months.

According to the registration forms, the social media company will have to provide

  • Name of the company
  • Type of service/application
  • Website
  • The number of its users in Pakistan (at the time of registration)
  • The number of its users in Pakistan
  • The addresses in Pakistan (local office details to be provided as per the timelines stipulated in the rules)
  • The company’s authorization letter (to be attached with this form)
  • The details of the authorized focal person

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According to the rules, in the event that a service provider, a social media company, an owner of an information system, an owner of an Internet website or a web server and a user do not comply with the provisions of these rules, the PTA will issue instructions to block the entire service / website or any service provided by such service providers that are owned or operated by such service providers or social media companies.

Social media companies and service providers must implement adequate mechanisms for identifying online content as specified in the rules (a service provider and a social media company must not knowingly host, display, upload, post, transmit, update or share any content online and will not allow the transmission, will select the recipient of the transmission and will select or modify the information contained in the transmission)

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The rules will also apply to Internet service providers, and all companies and providers have been instructed to restrict content that threatens the country’s security, prestige and defense.

It is currently unclear how companies like Facebook, Twitter, Google and WhatsApp will respond to these rules. None of these tech giants have offices in Pakistan, and apparently have no plans to establish their offices here either. In such a case, their services risk being blockaded in Pakistan

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