New social media rules will hurt freedom of expression, Alice Wells

New social media rules will hurt freedom of expression, Alice Wells

Posted on Feb 26, 2020

Alice Wells, the top US diplomat for South Asian affairs, expressed concern over the Pakistani government's new rules on social media, saying it would be a blow to freedom of expression and the growth of the digital economy.

Speaking on the social networking site, Alice Wells said, "If Pakistan is discouraging foreign investors and suppressing local innovation in such a vibrant sector, it is unfortunate that we are on the issue. Encourage discussion with stakeholders. '

It should be noted that the federal government has approved rules and regulations governing social media in the country.

Under these rules, social media companies will be obliged to provide any information or data on behalf of an investigating agency and will be fined Rs. 50 million if they do not provide any information.

The information it provides may include user information, traffic data or content details.

Under these rules, if a social media platform is identified as 'illegal content' in writing or electronically, they will be obliged to remove it within 24 hours while in an emergency within 6 hours.

In addition, these companies will have to establish a registered office in Islamabad with a working address within the next 3 months.

In addition, these companies will have to deploy their focal person to cooperate with the relevant authorities in Pakistan within 3 months and set up one or more database servers within 12 months to secure and record online content.

The move was criticized by different sections of the government, and critics expressed concern that it would allow the administration to control freedom of expression in the name of "religious hatred, spreading cultural and ethnic prejudice and national interest." The opportunity will come in handy.

In response to this criticism, the Prime Minister's Assistant Special Information and Broadcasting Minister Firdous Ashiq Awan defended the social media norms, saying that these rolls were set up to protect citizens.

He said, "There was no mechanism before that to protect the interests and national integrity of our citizens. However, after the implementation of this policy, social media companies think before they harm Pakistan's national interests."

The aide said the new law would not only expose Pakistan's opponents but would also help authorities curb extremists who spread hatred on the basis of religion and ethnicity.


Mian Tajamul

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