Govt determined to regulate social media, says Imran - Pakistan Today

Govt determined to regulate social media, says Imran

–Imran presides over review meeting, says rules not made to victimise anyone

ISLAMABAD: Prime Minister Imran Khan on Tuesday said that new rules are being introduced only to protect citizens and regulate social media in the country days after the Pakistan Tehreek-e-Insaf (PTI) government led by him decided to impose restrictions in the name of citizens’ protection and national interest.

Presiding over a meeting to review the social media rules, PM Imran said that the new rules were not prepared to curb freedom of expression or victimize political opponents. He claimed that the United Kingdom, Singapore and other countries were also introducing such laws to protect their citizens.

On the occasion, PM Imran Khan directed the authorities concerned to take all stakeholders on board ahead of implementing the rules.

The meeting also reviewed a response and feedback on the regulations and its impact on freedom of expression. Officials from the Ministry of Information, the Ministry of Interior, the Ministry of Law, the Pakistan Telecommunication Authority (PTA) and other relevant authorities were present in the meeting.

Earlier in the day, the federal government had decided to review the newly formulated laws aimed at regulating social media platforms. Sources privy to the development relayed Prime Minister Imran Khan had summoned a meeting to discuss the matter.

According to the newly-approved rules that aim at regulating cyberspace, social media companies will be obliged to help law enforcement agencies access data and to remove online content deemed unlawful. Companies that do not comply with the rules risk being blocked online.

The approval of the new rules follows accusations by opposition parties that Prime Minister Imran Khan’s government has sought to intimidate and silence its opponents and allegations of media censorship.

The new rules on social media are described by the authors as intended to prevent live streaming of online content relating to “terrorism, extremism, hate speech, defamation, fake news, incitement to violence and national security.”

Social media companies will be obliged within 24 hours to respond to a request to remove “unlawful” material, or six hours in emergency cases. They will have three months to register with authorities in Pakistan and must have a physical presence in Pakistan.

When required, the companies will be required to provide subscriber information, traffic data, content data and any other information or data that is sought, the regulations stipulate.

The rules also state that interpretations of the regulations by the authorities in Pakistan “shall take precedence over any community standards or rules or community guidelines or policies or any other instruments devised by a social media company.”