PTA tells court it cannot remove social media content | Pakistan Press Foundation (PPF)

Pakistan Press Foundation

PTA tells court it cannot remove social media content

Pakistan Press Foundation

KARACHI: The Pakistan Telecommunication Authority (PTA) on Thursday contended before the Sindh High Court that it had no jurisdiction to take cognizance of matter about removal/blocking of defamatory content and asked the SHC to issue specific directions to social media platforms for such purpose.

The PTA further claimed that in April last year, the Islamabad High Court had struck down its power to remove defamatory content from social media and suggested that the petitioner may be asked to directly approach the social media platforms for redressal of grievance.

When a two-judge bench headed by Justice Naimatullah Phulpoto took up the petitions, filed by actresses Mehwish Hayat and Rabia Iqbal Khan, better known as Kubra Khan, against defamatory content on social media against them, for hearing, the PTA and FIA filed compliance reports.

The bench asked the inquiry officer of the FIA whether the defamatory posts were removed in compliance with earlier orders.

The inquiry officer, Komal Anwar, of the FIA submitted that the agency had asked the PTA to remove the same, and added that Mehwish Hayat had recorded her statement and an inquiry had already been initiated by FIA cyber crime circle and entrusted to her (the inquiry officer) for further proceedings while the other petitioner had yet to record her testimony.

Hearing of petitions filed by two actors against ‘malicious, incendiary allegations’ held

The PTA in its report filed in the petition of Ms Hayat said that upon receipt of court direction, after a proactive search a total of 75 links/URLs pertaining to this issue had been processed for blocking and three links had been blocked, five removed by the users and thus not accessible, 18 had no objectionable content and thus asked the court to advise the petitioner to evaluate and identify the particular content while remaining 49 links/URLs were being further pursued with social media platforms.

However, it asserted that the PTA had no jurisdiction to block or remove such contents as the IHC on April 8, 2022 had struck down its powers under Section 20 of the Prevention of Electronic Crimes Act, 2016 with respect of defamatory content.

Therefore, the PTA requested the SHC to either issue directive to the social media platforms or asked the petitioner to take up the matter directly with such platforms.

The bench took the reports of FIA and PTA on record and provided the copies to the counsel for petitioners while a lawyer had filed power of attorney on behalf of the PTA in both petitions.

The SHC adjourned the hearing till Feb 24 and directed the IO of FIA to be in attendance at the next hearing as well.

Citing the ministry of interior, FIA and PTA as respondents, both petitioners submitted that “derogatory, defamatory, malicious, incendiary and sensationalising allegations” were made by YouTuber Adil Farooq Raja against them and two other actors on Dec 31, 2022 on social networking websites.

The actors submitted that the YouTuber in his video “caused an affront to their modesty and dignity by alleging that they were used by intelligence agencies and the establishment to lure politicians into compromising positions at safe houses maintained by such agencies where videos were made of such actresses with such politicians”.

Source: Dawn

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