The Pakistan Telecommunication Authority (PTA) has come under fire for not framing rules under the Prevention of Electronic Crimes Act (Peca) since 2016. This is resulting in several websites being banned online, based purely on the discretion of the PTA members. The absence of a framework for electronic crimes makes everyone vulnerable to the action of the PTA. This is why the Islamabad High Court (IHC) on Thursday issued notice to the chairman and members of the PTA for not framing these rules. The petition was filed by the members of the Awami Workers Party (AWP) who sought contempt proceedings against PTA Chairman Amir Azeem Bajwa and members Mohammad Naveed and Khawar Siddique.

Another challenge in the allowance of complete discretion to the PTA is also that the aggrieved party does not stand a chance to fight their case against the allegation by the PTA. This is not just against the basic guarantees that the state and the constitution provide, it is also against the Peca itself that guarantees the opportunity to those who have been allegedly contacted by the PTA in reference to electronic crimes. Four years’ worth of time has been wasted in the process due to the lack of adherence to the law. This is creating hindrances in the work of digital content makers, an industry that could certainly develop in Pakistan as well, provided that there is space online to voice out opinions and make content. Regulations of any kind need to have a framework so that everyone can be held to the same standard and the digital space can become more inclusive of a diversity of people and their opinions, especially with the rise of social movements in Pakistan. People will rely more and more on social media to voice their opinions.