Facebook administration has refused to comply with Pakistan’s request to link Facebook accounts with phone numbers citing issue of users’ rights, Voice of America (VOA) reported on Saturday.

According to media reports, Pakistan had made the request when Facebook Vice President Joel Kaplan met with Interior Minister Chaudhry Nisar Ali Khan last week. The purpose of the request was to curb the usage of fake profiles to post blasphemous content and make it easy for authorities to trace users.

The Pakistan Telecommunication Authority (PTA) also made a formal request to deal with the menace of fake profiles.

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FIA has observed that most of the cyber crimes have been committed over Facebook, given its popularity and usage in the country. Therefore the government requested Facebook VP to link Facebook accounts with phone numbers so that culprits could be traced earlier and without fail.

Not to mention that Mobile numbers are verified through biometric verification system in Pakistan. Currently, Facebook accounts are being opened through an email. Authorities believe the issue of fake accounts could be overcome if all existing accounts are verified with phone numbers.

Facebook Response

However, in an e-mail to VOA, Facebook has confirmed that it has decided not to comply with the request in continuation of protecting its customers’ rights. The policy for creating new accounts would remain unchanged, Facebook added.

Regarding the “important and constructive meeting,” the Facebook official stated that the VP discussed Facebook’s concerns regarding recent court decisions and clarified that the group follows a strictly legal process against the government’s request for ban on any type of material.

Since, February 2017, 137 blasphemous links have been blocked by the Facebook administration for viewership in Pakistan. Facebook was also asked to help Law Enforcement Agencies (LEAs) in the country by providing them with data that they asked for.

The US Company, in response, said that it received around 1,000 requests in 2016 from Pakistan and about 70 per cent of them had been complied with. The Facebook administration reiterated that it will continue to support such requests.