New Social Media rules in Pakistan

The use and influence of Social Media in Pakistan is steadily increasing.

The rules enforced by the Ministry of Information Technology Pakistan notification have been rejected by all stakeholders, including Internet service providers and digital rights experts, as harsh.

According to the notification issued by the government on social media against blasphemy, religious hatred, Pakistan's dignity, security, defense, federal and provincial government, law enforcement agencies, intelligence agencies, politicians, against cultural, Moral and Ideological Basis, Relevant companies are bound to block content against the values.

In case of non-compliance with the PTA decision, the relevant social media company or website will be completely blocked.

According to the document, service providers and social media companies with more than 500,000 subscribers will be required to register with the PTA and set up a registered office in Pakistan, especially in Islamabad, within nine months of the application of the rules.

Under the new rules, a complaint can be lodged with the PTA for posting defamatory, blasphemous or obscene images on social media or any website, including YouTube, Facebook, Twitter, Tick Talk, Google Plus and LinkedIn. The situation of freedom of expression in Pakistan is getting worse and worse

The draft will take care of freedom of expression.

Anyone can file a complaint against online content. For the protection of the complainant, his identity will be kept confidential by the authority. The Authority (i.e Ministry of Information Technology Pakistan) will deal with the registered compliant within 30 days.

The authority will allow the social media company, internet service provider, and the website owner 24 hours to remove the content before issuing a decision.

If the internet service provider, social media company, website owner does not remove the illegal content, PTA will be able to take action against them. In case of complaint, PTA will be able to get the opinion of experts. 

The service provider has nothing to do with the content, Wahaj Al-Siraj

Regarding the new rules, Wahaj Al-Siraj, convener of Internet Service Providers of Pakistan, told VOA that according to the PICA rules, service providers have nothing to do with content on the Internet, but the new rules also cover service providers. Added that they are responsible for the content.

For this purpose, they will have to buy very expensive technology, which is not possible.

Shehzad Ahmed of Bytes for All says that various companies, including Google and Facebook, have said in the past that they cannot operate in Pakistan in the presence of these rules. These rules restrict freedom on the Internet and we are against it.

"We have already gone to the Islamabad High Court about this and we will look into the matter in court as it is against fundamental rights," Shehzad Ahmed said.

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