The Asia Internet Coalition (AIC) cautioned in a letter written to Prime Minister Imran Khan that the new rules of the government to bring social media activities into the legal sphere would make it difficult for digital companies to work in Pakistan.
Copies of the letter written by AIC on February 15 were sent to Federal Law Minister Farogh Naseem, Minister of Information Technology Khalid Maqbool Siddiqui and Major General (retd) Amir Azim Bajwa, Chairman of Pakistan Telecommunication Authority (PTA).
The letter has been written to the Prime Minister by the AIC in response to the new government rules regarding social media, according to which, when issuing any document or information, it will be shown to the relevant investigating body and to comply with the terms. In case of failure, up to 50 crores will be fined.
Jeff Pan, Managing Director of AIC, expressed concern in the letter, saying that "these rules will severely disrupt Pakistan's digital economy".
He said, "AIC members are convinced that there is potential in Pakistan, but suddenly the announcement of these rules has denied the government's claims in which they say that Pakistan is for business and investment.
Referring to government rules, he said, "The rules made at present make it very difficult for AIC members to deliver their services to consumers and businesses in Pakistan."
AIC members include prominent Internet and technology companies, including Facebook, Twitter, Google, Amazon, Apple, Booking.com, Expedia Group, Grab, LinkedIn, Line Ricochet and Yahoo.
The group pointed out that no such "unilateral laws" were announced in any other country and that Pakistan unnecessarily overlooked Pakistani consumers and businesses having vast opportunities for the Internet economy. Global warming is taking the risk of falling out of this field.
The letter added that the government has approved the rules without consulting stakeholders or their views and has led international companies to revise their business plans in Pakistan.
"The way these laws are adopted is causing international companies to re-evaluate the legal environment in Pakistan and the desire for their activities in the country," the AIC said.
Stressing in the letter of the Prime Minister, the Internet company has said, "We urge the Government of Pakistan to ensure a comprehensive public consultation on the creation of new rules."