PTA given three-day deadline to fix YouTube problem
ISLAMABAD: The government has put the ball into the court of the Pakistan Telecommunication Authority (PTA) for re-opening YouTube, as the regulator has been given a three-day deadline to put a mechanism in place to stop the uploading of blasphemous content.
“We have developed IT solutions to block around 4,000 URLs having blasphemous content with the help of filters placed by PTCL. “Now PTA has been given three days to place a response mechanism after which a comprehensive package will be submitted before Inter-Ministerial Committee (IMC) to seek approval for re-opening of YouTube,” minister of state for information technology, Anusha Rahman, said while briefing reporters at the ministry’s office here Thursday afternoon.
Flanked by secretary ministry of IT and other top officials, Anusha Rahman said the ministry’s policy directives were not implemented by the PTA in the past but it was hoped that the ministry’s directives this time would be implemented in true letter and spirit. It was explained by the ministry’s officials that earlier their directives were not implemented by PTA but these directives were given before uploading of blasphemous content on Youtube.
The PTA, she said, had earlier estimated that it would cost $10 million to place filters to block blasphemous content on the Internet. At one point, it was revealed that there were 8 million URLs having blasphemous material. A 15-member committee established five weeks before concluded that blasphemous contents could be blocked on http and security protocols. The PTA will have to establish a call centre by coming with toll numbers as well as sharing with email address enabling masses to file any complaint about blasphemous content on any URL.
The minister of state for IT conceded that Google did not cooperate with the government for blocking such unwarranted contents.“Now we have proposed a draft law on cyber crimes and inserted clauses to tackle issues as currently confronting in case of Google,” she said and added that no deadline could be given for approval of such law by the Cabinet as well as Parliament.
On the issue of gray trafficking, she said that the government inherited the issue of International Clearing House (ICH) mechanism, which was now lying in different courts. After consulting with stakeholders, it came to know that monitoring equipments were not in place so there were all rough estimates on gray trafficking that it dropped from 2 billion minutes to 500 million minutes on a monthly basis. Some new components of monitoring mechanism are being imported and this system will be in place by September 15, 2013.
When asked about the auction of 3G licences, she said that the ministry would develop a comprehensive policy in this regard as moratorium on entering of new players existed no more and efforts would be made to come up with a policy to focus upon revenues for auction of spectrum as well as ensuring local manufacturing and conducting research and development to develop our markets.
“Efforts are under way to come up with interim arrangement at PTA as it will kick-start the process of auctioning of 3G,” she added.On the issue of e-governance in the federal ministries and provincial governments, she said PTCL has agreed to provide data hoisting facility free of cost for 15 months and secrecy of information would be protected at all costs.
The National Telecommunication Commission (NTC) has been unable to come up with data hoisting facility and now decision will be taken after 15 months whether PTCL would continue extending this facility or the government would develop its own facility.