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Tech companies write to PM Khan over online content rules

Pakistan introduced the controversial social media rules last month

SAMAA | - Posted: Dec 10, 2020 | Last Updated: 3 months ago
Posted: Dec 10, 2020 | Last Updated: 3 months ago
Tech companies write to PM Khan over online content rules

Photo: AFP

Pakistan must acknowledge the right to individual expression and engage stakeholders before policymaking on social media rules, major tech firms said Thursday, in response to the new rules introduced by Pakistan last month.

The Removal and Blocking of Unlawful Online Content (Procedure, Oversight and Safeguards), Rules 2020 attracted controversy right after they were introduced in November.

The rules have been introduced under Sub-section (2) of Section 37 of the Prevention of Electronic Crimes Act, 2016, which talks about “unlawful online content”.

In the letter published on its website, the Asia Internet Coalition said that it was “alarmed by the scope of Pakistan’s new Rules, as well as the opaque process by which these rules were finalised”.

Related: Pakistan’s new social media rules explained

The coalition, which speaks on behalf of major technology companies in Asia, said they were never invited for consultations that the prime minister promised in February.

The tech companies said they have “lost trust in the consultation process because it is neither credible nor transparent”.

They asked Pakistan to work with the industry to introduce rules that guarantee freedom of speech and a safe online experience.

The rules in their present form make it “extremely difficult for AIC Members to make their platforms and services available to Pakistani users and businesses,” the tech companies said.

They force social media companies to violate established human rights norms on privacy and freedom of expression, they added.

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