ISLAMABAD: Following growing criticism over the recent 'sanctions' introduced on social media, Prime Minister Imran Khan directed the concerned authorities to consult all stakeholders before implementing these rules.
Presiding over a meeting, the Prime Minister expressed hope that all international social media and internet companies will continue to operate in Pakistan and the government will remove their concerns.
Secretary Information Technology Shoaib Siddiqui told that in the meeting, it was decided that all international and local stakeholders would be taken on board before the implementation of the new rules.
After attending the meeting, Secretary Information further said that the government is in touch with international internet companies and their representatives will be called for a meeting soon so that they can be informed about the new rules and for social media regulation in Pakistan. Get their suggestions.
Reporters Without Borders (RSF), on the other hand, called for the government to abolish the rules governing the regulation of social media, saying that regulation of social media is necessary but it should not disguise censorship.
RSF issued a statement saying, "With the efforts to bring the Internet to its knees, Prime Minister Imran Khan's government issued a new rule (Citizen Protection Against Online Harm Rules, 2020) on January 28. Approved in the memo. '
Daniel Bastard of the RSF Asia-Pacific Desk said that 'the vague and obscure language used in the regulation testifies to the arbitrary nature of governmental measures'.
He further said, "We urge federal authorities to abolish rules that pose a major threat to journalists' work, especially in regards to the confidentiality of their sources. Social media regulation is necessary but it requires censorship. Should not be disguised '.
The RSF further said that these rules are measures designed to increase government control over social media companies, they will have to open offices in Pakistan and Rs. 50 crore if any content fails to block or remove them within the stipulated period. Will be fined '.
It is understood that on February 15, major companies like Internet and Technologies such as Facebook, Twitter, Google, Amazon, Airbnb, Apple, Booking.com, Expedia Group, Grab, LinkedIn, Line, Rockin 'and Yahoo! The Industrial Alliance of Asia Internet Coalition (AIC) had sent a letter in the name of Prime Minister Imran Khan.
The letter warned them that it would be "very difficult" for digital companies in Pakistan to work with the new rules of the government to legalize social media activities.
Jeff Pann, Managing Director of AIC, expressed concern in the letter, saying that "these rules will severely disrupt Pakistan's digital economy".
In addition, human rights organization Human Rights Commission of Pakistan (HRCP) and journalist organization Pakistan Federal Union of Journalists (PFUJ) have also demanded the government review its decision.
The HRCP expressed deep concern over the new laws that would allow virtual entities on social media to control freedom of expression to protect 'sensitive issues for religious, cultural, ethnic and national security'.