'Immoral' chat – 'Only one cellular company complying with PTA ban' -Pakistan Press Foundation (PPF)

Paksitan Press Foundtion

‘Immoral’ chat – ‘Only one cellular company complying with PTA ban’

Pakistan Press Foundation

ISLAMABAD: The Pakistan Telecommunication Authority (PTA)’s orders to crack down on “immoral” love chat services offered by mobile phone companies has only been compiled with by one cellular company, The News has learnt.

The regulator tightened the ban late last month, ordering telecommunication companies to scrap immediately “all kinds of chat services, irrespective of the time of day” due to protests from parents and lawmakers.

“Yes, one cellular company has stopped providing such chat services and given us a compliance report,” an official source in the PTA confirmed to The News here on Wednesday.

The source revealed that another company informed the regulator that it was complying with the PTA order but it was later revealed that the company did not provide such services.

Interestingly, the cellular company also noted that the closure of the ‘immoral’ chat services is causing significant losses in terms of revenues.

“Despite the fact that our chat services were in accordance with the legal as well as moral standards, it [cellular company] has closed down its legitimate chat services upon the directions of PTA,” said the company in its compliance report available with The News, provided to the PTA on September 12, 2013.

In the compliance report, the company informed the regulator that it has banned certain chat rooms with names that include words such as love, romance and friendship and introduced chat rooms as current affairs and sports zone. Further, a gender wise profile search was also abandoned.

This is the second time that the PTA had issued an order for the closure of such services. Operators have sought intervention by the courts to resume chat services and most have continued to offer these services to their customers.

According to the PTA, the regulator recognises that liberalisation and tough competition in the cellular mobile market have pushed operators to introduce various promotional packages to subscribers. However, the PTA insists that as long as practices “against social norms” are not encouraged, the operators are free to continue providing better quality of services to their subscribers at affordable prices.

The PTA has arrogated itself the right to crackdown on these packages under the Reorganization Act of 1996, which provides the PTA the mandate to regulate competition in the telecommunication sector, protect consumer rights and ensure that the interests of users are safeguarded and protected.

Protection of consumer interests is specified under Section 18 (1) of the Act and the PTA is required to submit yearly reports on the same to the federal government. At the same time, under Section 6(a) of the Act, the authority is also bound to protect the rights of licences.

The News