PTA deems PUBG ‘wastage of time’ in detailed order

The state-run Pakistan Telecommunication Authority (PTA) has refused to unblock the online game, PlayerUnknown’s Battlegrounds (PUBG), insisting that the game is “highly addictive” and a “wastage of time”.

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After holding a consultative meeting with citizens, government officials and the company, Proxima Beta Ptv. Ltd, the authority released a detailed order on July 23.

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”.

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