ISLAMABAD: The Pakistan Telecommunication Authority (PTA) on Thursday decided to lift the ban from the online game PlayerUnknown’s Battlegrounds (PUBG) and live streaming app Bigo after assurances from the companies to address the concerns raised by the authority over immoral content on these platforms.
The decision was taken after a meeting was held between the telecom regulator and the legal representatives of PUBG company, read a statement issued by the PTA.
“Proxima Beta (PB) representatives briefed the Authority on response to queries raised by PTA with respect to controls put in place by PB to prevent misuse of the gaming platform. The PTA expressed its satisfaction on measures adopted by PB so far, and emphasized on continued engagement and a comprehensive control mechanism.”
After receiving positive engagement from the company, the PTA decided to unban the PUBG, the statement added.
Bigo to ‘moderate’ immoral, indecent content
The PTA lifted the ban from the live streaming app Bigo as a result of constant engagement and a detailed review by the authority.
“A meeting was held between PTA Authority Members and Vice President South Asia Operations of Bigo, Mr. Jhon Zhang wherein the representative assured Bigo’s commitment to moderate immoral and indecent content in accordance with Pakistani laws,” read the PTA statement.
“Bigo management assured continued engagement with PTA to address the issue of unlawful content,” it added.
On July 20, the telecom authority had announced to ban Bigo and issued a final warning to Chinese-owned social media app TikTok after receiving a number of complaints from different segments of the society against immoral, obscene and vulgar content on these platforms and their extremely negative effects on the society in general and youth in particular.
‘PUBG waste of time’
In a detailed order issued earlier this week, the authority had refused to unblock the game insisting that it is “highly addictive” and a “wastage of time”.
In the order, the PTA ruled that it was necessary to block the online game in the interest of public order. “The game is highly addictive, destroying youth, wastage of time and has a negative impact on physical and psychological health,” the 11-page report read.
The authority added that it was empowered under section 37 of the Prevention of Electronic Crimes Act, 2016, to remove or block access to information if it considers it necessary in “the interest of the glory of Islam, the integrity, security or defence of Pakistan or…public order, decency or morality”.
While admitting that there is in fact no exact definition of “decency” and “morality”, the PTA explained that it used the terms in a general sense and considered the “principles of ethics” and “right conduct” when deciding to ban PUBG.
In June, the authority said, there had been reports of suicide in the media which “had potential” links to the PUBG game addiction. In addition, the Capital City Police Officer, Lahore, had written to the authority regarding the negative effects of online games, especially PUBG, and had further stated that there have been two incidents of suicide in District Lahore under influence of the said game.
Delving further into the debate of “morality”, the online regulator said it found the impact of PUBG an issue of “moral turpitude”. The PTA then defined “moral turpitude” as “anything done against just, honesty, modesty or good morals. It is deprivation of character and devoid of morality.”
The order also stated that while the Internet is meant to connect people, “there are negative as well as perverse tendencies inherent in any human being. The online phenomenon such as PUBG, brings this out”.