Over 1.1m sacrilegious sites blocked: PTA

In Local
April 05, 2024



PESHAWAR:

On Thursday, the Pakistan Telecommunication Authority (PTA) informed the Peshawar High Court (PHC) that it has blocked over 1.1 million websites and pages on social media platforms due to sacrilegious content.

The country’s telecommunication regulator stated that it permanently blocked such sites while also removing objectionable material from popular forums like Facebook, Instagram, and WhatsApp.

A division bench of the PHC, including Justice S M Attique Shah and Justice Syed Arshad Ali, resumed hearing a petition filed by citizen Sarah Ali Khan, requesting the removal and blocking of blasphemous content on the internet.

The petitioner argued that content available on Facebook, X, Instagram, and other social media platforms not only goes against Islamic values but also adversely affects societal norms by corrupting the youth.

She pointed out that the PTA has not devised any mechanism to block such content and urged the court to direct the authority to entirely block such material and ensure content filtration at the time of uploading. She suggested hiring an expert for this purpose.

The PTA’s counsel informed the court that the authority has completely shut down over 1.1 million sites and links containing such content.

Read also: Shocking surge seen in sacrilegious activities on social media

However, he clarified that since access to these platforms is obtained through various means including VPNs, it is not possible to completely block them.

He further stated that the content complained about by the petitioner is not only against Pakistani law but also against the country’s traditions, and it cannot be tolerated. He assured the court that once such material is detected, it is promptly removed, although it takes time.

The counsel admitted that the PTA does not have a mechanism to filter out such material before it is uploaded, but efforts are being made to address the issue.

Responding to a judge’s query, the lawyer explained that content available on social media can only be deleted once it is uploaded. He mentioned the existing deletion procedure and stated that thousands of such items are removed daily.

The PTA’s lawyer informed the court that according to the law, the petitioner should file a complaint with the authority, which will then take immediate action. The court later disposed of the case and will issue a written order subsequently.

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