After facing severe criticism from international media bodies and digital rights activists over recent rules to regulate digital media, Prime Minister Imran Khan directed the government authorities to consider the opinions of all stakeholder involved before implementing the cabinet-approved social media rules.
PM Imran, while presiding a meeting regarding the rules, has expressed the hope that all international social media and internet companies would continue to work in Pakistan and the government would address their grievances.
Information Technology Secretary Shoaib Siddiqui told media that “the meeting decided that all local and international stakeholders will be taken on board on new laws before their implementation”.
The federal cabinet on January 28, had approved Citizens Protection (Against Online Harm) Rules, 2020. Following this approval, the ruling party Pakistan Tehreek-i-Insaf found itself in hot water for trying to ‘curb’ critical voices in social media through controversial laws.
Recently, Reporters Without Borders (RSF) had demanded of the government to rescind its rules aimed at regulating social media. The Asia Internet Coalition (AIC) on Feb 15, wrote a letter to the prime minister, warning him that new rules to regulate social media activity would make it “extremely difficult” for digital companies to operate in Pakistan.
Besides the RSF and AIC, the Human Rights Commission of Pakistan (HRCP) and the Pakistan Federal Union of Journalists (PFUJ) have also urged the PTI government to reconsider its decision.