Govt forms body to review new social media regulations

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Govt forms body to review new social media regulations

ISLAMABAD: Amid the clamour and confusion, Pakistan’s government has appointed a committee to review the country’s new social media regulations.

The panel has been tasked to hold consultations with all relevant segments of civil society and technology companies to regulate online content without violating personal freedoms. The process is to be completed within two months.

The committee is headed by Pakistan Telecommunication Authority chairman Amir Azeem Bajwa. Other members are Eazaz Aslam Dar, Additional Secretary of the IT Ministry; Tania Aidrus, member of the Strategic Reforms Implementation Unit in the PM’s Office and Dr Arslan Khalid, focal person to the PM on digital media. Federal Minister for Human Rights Dr Shireen Mazari and Barrister Ali Zafar will also be involved in the discussion, reported international media on Sunday.

Pakistan’s federal cabinet approved a new set of regulations on social media called “Citizens Protection Rules (Against Online Harm) 2020” on January 28, 2020.

The regulations require social media companies to establish representative offices in Pakistan, to remove any ‘unlawful content’ within 24 hours, to prevent live streaming of any content “related to terrorism, extremism, hate speech, defamation, fake news, incitement to violence and national security.” If a company does not comply, its services can be blocked and face fines of up to 500 million rupees. The officials say that the law was not meant to restrict online platforms but in fact “to invite them to register in Pakistan and expand local footprint.”