Cyber vigilance dept established by PTA to combat unlawful content online


ISLAMABAD: Pakistan Telecommunication Authority (PTA) has established a Cyber Vigilance Division (CVD) to handle complaints against unlawful online content under Prevention of Electronic Crimes Act (PECA).

In order to handle this role, PTA has also developed Standard Operating Procedures (SOPs) for lodging complaints and their disposal has been developed accordingly.

All content hosted on unsecured websites is being currently handled through telecom operators and PTA itself.

On the contrary, any content which is unlawful and hosted on secured web site is handled differently.

Popular social media websites like Facebook, YouTube and Twitter are a few examples of secured websites which are hosted outside of the physical boundaries of Pakistan.

As per PTA’s latest report, the authority has developed close liaison with all such platforms to honour requests made for removal of content that does not pass the standards of CVD.

It said historically and predominantly, PTA has been acting under functions and powers given by Pakistan Telecom (Re-organisation) Act, 1996.

However, with development and growth of the internet, PTA has been entrusted upon with the responsibility of blocking or removing of any content which is declared unlawful under relevant provisions of the law.

This responsibility was handed over to PTA under Prevention of Electronic Crimes Act (PECA), 2016.

Since the promulgation of PECA, PTA stands committed to the responsibilities of the facilitation of aggrieved internet users and stakeholders, including government organisations, public offices, business entities and other agencies.

Under Section 37 of the PECA, 2016 content which is “against the glory of Islam, against the integrity, security and defence of Pakistan, public order, contempt of court, against decency & morality and incitement of any offices” will be blocked or removed.

The complaints received by the PTA against unlawful online resources including anti-state, anti-judiciary content, blasphemy. In this regard, the PTA has already blocked 824,878 URLs so far. All of these came under its jurisdiction through PECA.