Pakistan introduced controversial rules in November
The Pakistan Federal Union of Journalists has asked the Islamabad High Court to strike down the Removal and Blocking of Unlawful Online Content (Procedure, Oversight and Safeguards), Rules 2020, saying the rules are unconstitutional.
The court has set the petition for hearing tomorrow (Friday).
The Pakistan Telecommunication Authority has made these rules and the IT ministry announced them on November 19. The PTA has the power to do this under Sub-section (2) of Section 37 of the Prevention of Electronic Crimes Act, 2016, which talks about “unlawful online content”.
The rules came into force immediately.
The journalists union has said that the rules should be struck down with immediate effect. They violate fundamental rights guaranteed under the Constitution, it said.
The petition mentioned clauses that allow the PTA to block content online that is against the “glory of Islam”, interest, security and defence of Pakistan,” etc. Article 19 already lists down what constitutes glory of Islam and national security, the petition said, and added that the Supreme Court has the authority to interpret the law, not the PTA.
It said that the rules also contradict its parent act, PECA.
The rules will destroy digital economy, internet user numbers, and have a negative impact on businesses, the PFUJ said.