National Assembly Committee On IT Informed of Progress Regarding Cyber Crimes and Objectionable Content

The National Assembly Standing committee on Information Technology and Telecommunication showed serious concerns on the issues of objectionable material on social media, as well as increasing complaints regarding cyber crime and fake accounts. The committee directed that the IT Ministry should take stringent measures to resolve these issues with help of PTA and FIA.

The committee met with Ali Khan Jadoon in the chair here on Monday. He emphasized the need for coordination between FIA and the IT Ministry to improve their quality of work.

The committee was further informed in writing that Pakistan Telecommunication Authority (PTA) has constituted a dedicated cell namely “Web Analysis Cell (WAC)” to receive/process complaints requiring internet content regulation.

Concerning issues related to content removal/ blocking for impersonation / fake accounts, PTA has processed 1,684 such URLs/websites including 106 from Dailymotion, 851 from Facebook, 13 on Instagram, 211 from Other/Misc, 277 on Twitter, and 243 on Youtube. The committee was further informed that the Ministry of Information and Broadcast (MoIB) has raised a Cyber Wing which reported about 71-fake accounts, defamatory/impersonation.

USF Project Update

A representative from Universal Services Fund (USF) held briefing on USF’s ongoing and future projects. They also explained how much funds are being utilized for these projects in Pakistan.

In this regards they have been designed the programmes to cater for the needs of unserved and underserved segment of population across Pakistan. They will also planned for new program in current financial year. USF also intends to provide coverage to the unserved areas in FATA and Khyber Pakhtunkhwa, headed. Further more USF is also gathering data from telecom operators regarding their existing coverage in the country and also design projects to upgrade existing infrastructure to provide 3G services.

The representative from USF also informed that they will provide High Speed Broadband services in motorways and highways very soon.

USF officials said that only 10 percent of the towers are connected through optic fiber in the country while the remaining is connected through microwaves.  USF officials said that 13000 unserved mauzas covering 15 million population was targeted for voice and data services. As for broadband coverage, about 7200 mauzas covering 10.4 million people have been covered so far. Efforts are being made to reach out to 30 million people in the next five years.

The Committee was told that from a total of 6,061 union councils in the country, 1,051 already have fiber optic networks, 1,870 have fiber optics without nodes while 3,140 union councils do not have fiber optic presence.

USF has initiated its special project to lay fiber optics network in all the uncovered areas and that the Board of Directors has given approval for the project. The cabinet has recently approved the project of providing high speed broadband for 11 uncovered cities including Sukkur, DG Khan, Dadu, Bahawalpur, Mirpurkhas, Larkana, Mastung, Turbat, Chitral, Pishin.

The USF aims to provide broadband facility in 46 districts covering a population of 3 crore. The Committee was told that the covered area for voice communication and data services has increased manifold ever since USF enhanced its operations. USF officials observed that all projects are allocated as a result of open transparent competitive bidding.

The committee chairman expressed serious concerns over the performance of the MoITT while saying that reports about its poor performance have started appearing in the media.