ISLAMABAD: The government has temporarily suspended online game Player Unknown’s Battlegrounds (PUBG) and sought details from the platform to bring it in regulatory framework.

This was revealed by senior officials of the Pakistan Telecommunication Authority (PTA), while briefing the National Assembly Standing Committee on Information Technology and Telecommunication, which met under the chairmanship of Ali Khan Jadoon, here on Monday.

The issues regarding regulating the social media platforms and countering the cyber security crimes in the country came under discussion.

Parliamentarians from the government as well as opposition parties observed that blocking everything is not the solution to the problems.

It was deliberated that instead of restricting the whole map, it would be reasonable to restrict the contents.

“It would be better to regulate social media forums instead of closing them down,” said Kanwal Shauzab.

Young people have a lot of reservations about the ban on the PUBG. By shutting down YouTube, PUBG we go into isolation. Banning opportunities that are a source of money and foreign exchange should be considered, said Kanwal Shauzaib. You cannot shut down a platform, said Zain Qureshi, adding that the case of children’s suicide is yet to be decided.

The PTA decided, keeping in view the safety of the lives of the people, said PTA Director Nisar Ahmed, adding that if the standing committee recommends, they would lift the ban.

Controlling children is the first responsibility of parents, said Qureshi, adding that it is not possible to shut down single content in the world.

The PTA official said that two children committed suicide after not being allowed to open PUBG. Committee members objected, while saying that the game is still being run by installing proxies, DG Web PTA said that around 14,000 proxies have been closed but more are opened.

The PUBG will remain closed until the inquiry report on the children’s suicide is received, he added.

He further said that the government has asked PUBG for some details. We are not closing it completely. The PUBG should be brought into the regulatory framework, Member PTA added. They further said that the court did not order to open the PUBG.

The authority has issued a detailed decision, and asked the PUBG for some details. Further negotiations are underway with PUBG for registration in Pakistan and a final order will be issued on the PUBG, the PTA officials added.

There is a solution to all the problems in the social media rules, said Secretary IT Shoaib Siddiqui, adding that under the rules, all these platforms can be negotiated. He further said social media laws were criticised for no reason. He further said the social media rules were objected to but the time was proving them right.

It is very important to regulate social media, said Jadoon, adding that the question is, will we be able to enforce these rules? The PTA officials said that regulating social media might help.

Siddiqui said that a committee was formed on the rules, and it gave its recommendations in two months.

The prime minister had given 10 weeks till September to prepare the rules, said Siddiqui, adding that members of the committee could also give their suggestions in these rules. The rules have been updated and sent back to the advisory committee for approval, said the PTA officials, adding that the rules were expected to be ready by mid-August.

Once there is a mutual treaty, the PTA can regulate them, said officials, adding that currently content can be removed under Article 37A. Content that comes from Pakistan is possible, but content from abroad is not possible without a treaty, the officials added. Secretary IT said that it was necessary to improve the performance of the FIA. The FIA needs human resources and equipment, said Siddiqui. The Foreign Office official briefing the committee on Budapest Treaty and MLA said that Budapest Convention was a European convention that suits their circumstances. He further said that there was no data protection law in Pakistan.

With the Budapest Convention, we will have to share our data with other countries, says the Foreign Office director, adding that with these agreements, we will have to share most of our data with companies abroad.

“We will not benefit from Budapest conventions and MLAs,” said Foreign Office Director, adding that a MLA law was going to be in place in Pakistan, which was important.

There is an issue going on at the UN level on the Budapest, and we want to give our input on it, said the director, adding that there was a need to create a cyber crime center.

The committee members unanimously agreed to have consultation regarding establishment of a central-level body to oversee the cooperation of various government institutions to counter cyber crime. The committee members suggested capacity building of the FIA to increasing cyber crime in the country.

The committee unanimously agreed that the underserved areas be given priority by telecom, a provider for this Ministry of Information Technology and Telecommunication was asked to take up the issue with the telecom providers.

The secretary IT&T informed that telecom industry had taken a lot of initiatives especially during the COVID 19 regarding online business, provision of Online services across the country especially online classes and online business, spreading awareness regarding COVID-19, maintaining connectivity across the country.

He informed the house that exports revenue related with IT had increased exponentially and Pakistan was at 3rd in terms of freelancing.

The secretary IT briefed the house to upgrade the IT underserved areas through Universal Service Fund (USF).

The meeting was attended by MNAs, Sahibzada Sibghatullah, Makhdoom Zain Hussain Qureshi, Muhammad Aslam Khan, Kanwal Shauzab, Nusrat Wahid, Romina Khurshid Alam, Shamim Ara Panhwar, Mahesh Kumar Malani, Syed Mehmood Shah, and officers of concerned departments.