LAHORE: The Human Rights Commission of Pakistan (HRCP) has expressed deep concern over the government’s decision to regulate social media platforms.
“Such a move – which has been made without consulting civil society stakeholders – has no credible justification,” HRCP Chairperson Dr Mehdi Hassan said in a press statement.
Dr Hassan stated that while the government has said that these rules are intended to prohibit ‘unlawful’ online content, HRCP is concerned that they will enable the designated authorities to control freedom of expression and opinion in the guise of protecting ‘religious, cultural, ethnic and national security sensitivities’.
“Such broad parameters could well be used to justify removing online content deemed critical of state policies or to access unencrypted user data, making ordinary users vulnerable to the misuse of personal data. Political dissent will be the first to suffer,” the press release said.
The rights watchdog said that the print and broadcast media are already being subjected to implicit censorship, therefore instituting such stringent rules will contract the space that exists for citizens to access information that the mainstream media does not, or cannot, provide.