Govt can’t block social media websites
ISLAMABAD – The government cannot block Facebook or other social media websites for not paying tax to the Punjab government, sources revealed on Sunday.
According to top officials, the government has neither technology nor expertise to block any website.
“We through internet service providers blocked YouTube in recent past but it was a useless attempt as users accessed it through proxies and other add-ons,” a top official said.
He said with every passing day more and more websites are emerging. They cannot be blocked on the wish of any government organization, he added.
“According to an old list, there are more than fifty social media websites, and I am sure the number would be around 100 if we list them today,” he said.
He, however, admitted that threatening a giant like facebook to pay taxes is thoughtless. “There is no wrong in asking any company to pay tax, but when you are talking to some multinational giant, who does not have any physical presence in the country but virtual only, you have to be extra careful,” he said.
Revenue department believes that when a taxable service originates from outside the country, but is received or terminates in Punjab, the recipient of such service shall be liable to pay the tax to the government.
According to telecom regulator officials, technically the demand is as per law but in it is not applicable to internet or any virtual service.
Unrealistic demands may cause embarrassment for the government, and in this particular case it seems those who threatened big corporations do not know basics of internet and its operations.
He advised the revenue department to fist make a conducive environment in the country and then invite social media giants to open offices in Pakistan, then gradually they could be brought under the tax net.
The revenue department should at least consult PITB before taking any further step or even talking to media, he said.
About two months ago, PRA had sent notices to social websites including Facebook, Google, Dailymotion and YouTube, to register their online advertisement business with the Authority. Only Facebook responded and said that since it is operating from Ireland it does not need to register with the authority and declined to pay any type of tax.
PRA Chairman Dr Siddique Raheel, reportedly, confirmed that the authority had received the facebook response and his department’s legal wing was evaluating the reply.
He also hinted of consulting Pakistan Telecommunication Authority to block the services of those websites, who refuse to pay taxes to Punjab government.