The government has put the ball into the court of PTA for re-opening of Youtube

ISLAMABAD (SPECIAL REPORT )

The regulator—PTA— has been given 3- day deadline for placing a response mechanism in case of arising of any complaint of uploading of any blasphemous contents on websites.

“We have developed IT solutions to block around 4000 URLs having blasphemous contents with the help of filters placed by PTCL. Now PTA has been given 3 days deadline to place a response mechanism after which a comprehensive package will be submitted before Inter-Ministerial Committee (IMC) for getting approval on re-opening of Youtube into Pakistan,” Minister of State for Information Technology, Anusha Rahman, said while briefing reporters at the ministry’s office here on 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 its 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 arising of blasphemous content on Youtube.

The PTA, she said, had estimated before that it would cost $10 million to place a setup of filters to block blasphemous content on internet. At one point of time, it was revealed that there were 8 million URLs having blasphemous material but now identification of such contents accomplished as 15 member committee was established five weeks before which concluded after consulting international consultant that blasphemous contents could be blocked on http and security protocols. The PTA will have to establish a call center by coming with toll numbers as well as sharing with email address enabling masses to raise any complaint about blasphemous content on any URL of internet.

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 inter-mediatory clauses to tackle issues as currently confronting in case of Google,” she said and added that no deadline could be given that how much time required to pass this law from Cabinet as well as from Parliament.

On the issue of grey trafficking, she said that the government inherited the issue of International Clearing House (ICH) mechanism which was now lying into different courts. After consulting with stakeholders, it came to know that monitoring equipments were not in place so there were all rough estimates on grey trafficking that it dropped from 2 billion minutes to 500 million minutes on monthly basis. Some new components of monitoring mechanism are being imported and this system will be in place at PTA by September 15, 2013.

When asked about auction of 3G license, 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 underway to come up with interim arrangement at PTA as it will pave the way for kick-starting the process of auctioning of 3G,” she added.

On the issue of e-governance in federal ministries and provincial governments, she said that PTCL agreed to provide data hoisting facility as free of cost for 15 months and secrecy of information would be protected at all cost. The National Telecommunication Commission (NTC) has remained unable to come up with data hoisting facility and now decision will be taken after 15 months whether PTCL would continue extending its facility or the government would develop its own facility.

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