PTA, NADRA asked to crack down on illegal SIMs

NA panel deplores PTA’s failure in blocking objectionable content on social media


Irshad Ansari September 01, 2021

ISLAMABAD:

The National Assembly Standing Committee on Information Technology and Telecommunications on Tuesday directed the Pakistan Telecommunications Authority (PTA) and National Database and Registration Authority (NADRA) to evolve a comprehensive mechanism to take action against the issuance of illegal mobile SIMs.

The committee, chaired by Ali Khan Jadoon, expressed concerns over the “indifferent attitude” of both the departments for not complying with its directions after the lapse of considerable time.

Officials representing the PTA told the panel that stringent measures were being introduced to monitor the illegal issuance of SIMs, assuring that the problems had been considerably reduced. The committee was told that the PTA had also taken punitive action against mobile operators who were found involved in issuing SIMs without fulfilling mandatory requirements and verification process.

The committee expressed annoyance, saying that the measures were not up to the mark, observing that tackling the rampant problem required more meaningful measures. The committee asked both the PTA and NADRA to come up with a plan within 15 days.

The committee decided to summon the Federal Investigation Agency (FIA) in the next meeting to discuss issues pertaining to cybercrimes and noted that the FIA was also lagging behind in curbing the cybercrimes due to its capacity issues.

The standing committee has also invited the Ministry of Information and Broadcasting in its next meeting to deliberate over the Media Development Authority Ordinance as some members took exception to the ordinance, expressing apprehensions that the ordinance aimed “to contain the growth of social media”.

While responding to the calling-attention notice earlier moved by Faqir Muhammad, the committee deplored the PTA’s “failure in blocking objectionable and immoral content on social media such as pornography, blasphemy and hate speech”.

Read More: NADRA can’t block, cancel CNICs: IHC

Faqir had contended that the PTA had fallen short of curtailing content that “destroyed the social fabric and also created intolerance in the society”.

The PTA representative told the panel that although stringent measures were undertaken to block such content, “due to technological constraints and limitation the content was hosted by the websites offshore, therefore, any meaningful action could not be taken”.

He said that the PTA was constantly in touch with all social media platforms and actions were taken from time to time, adding that action had been initiated against violators under cybercrime laws.

Meanwhile, the committee postponed the discussion on The Pakistan Telecommunication (Re-Organisation Amendment) Bill, 2020 and The Electronic Transactions (Amendment) Bill, 2019 moved by Amjid Ali Khan till its next meeting.

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