According to sources, the OTT (Over-the-top) services such as Skype, Facebook, Whatsapp and others falling in the same category will have to obtain a license to operate in Pakistan as per the revisions made in the Telecom Policy 2015. The Economic Coordination Committee (ECC) has accepted the Telecom Policy 2015 that outlines the need for a licensing framework for such service providers in Pakstan.
The completion of the said framework is upto the Pakistan Telecommunication Authority (PTA) based on yet unidentified standards after which Whatsapp, Facebook, Skype and other similar services will be prompted to acquire the required license.
As enunciated in the section 5.2.5 of Telecom Policy 2015:
“In developing the new licensing regime interalia the following should be taken into account:
Section 20 of the Telecom Act, and in particular, which over-the-top services should be licensed under a “general authorisation” in which a service provider is deemed to hold a license by virtue of the services that it provides and is then subject to the terms of that general authorisation, which may include national security requirements”
However, the experts on the matter are quite skeptical of the addition of this new policy. They regard the implementation as impractical and are certain that the move will not be beneficial for any party (telecom companies or customers.)
According to Salman Ansari, one of the notable contributors who helped devise the Telecom Policy 2003 pointed out that regulating OTT services is unfeasible and impossible.
He further said,“The moment you block a service, such as you did with YouTube, users will start tunneling through VPNs and proxies it to get it unblocked”.
The experts are not in the favor of this ambitious step undertaken by the Government to lawfully intercept the services as it has a high probability of backfiring and being ignored by the OTT service providing companies.