Tech Firms Urge PM to Make Critical Changes in New Rules

Technology companies are seeking the assistance of Prime Minister Imran Khan to ensure that critical changes are made to the newly approved social media rules. According to tech firms, these new rules are making a lot of hurdles for social media companies in order to continue their platforms and services in Pakistan.

The tech firms sought the assistance of PM in the scathing letter that wrote in the response of the rules titled, “Removal and Blocking of Unlawful Online Content (Procedure, Oversight and Safeguards) Rules 2020,”

Tech Firms Urge PM to Make Critical Changes in New Rules

The Asia Internet Coalition (AIC) urgently calls for a credible consultation process that facilitates all the members of AIC to provide substantive input and address crucial issues such as internationally-recognised rights to individual expression and privacy.

In the letter, the AIC highlighted that during bilateral meetings with AIC and its member companies, the PTA had committed to share a draft copy of the rules, but recently, the Ministry of Information Technology and Telecommunication has updated the rules on its website without explanation or due process, underscoring the lack of credibility and transparency in the process through which these rules were finalised.

“Industry stakeholders have therefore lost trust in the consultation process because it is neither credible nor transparent,” AIC notes in the letter.  The coalition further said that instead of clarifying the scope of the powers given to the PTA, these rules are making confusion which affects both users and online platforms in Pakistan.

The tech giants repeatedly highlighted that the large portions of the rules were not only unworkable for global internet platforms but also not falling under the scope of the Parent Act (Peca 2016).

According to AIC, the data localisation requirements in the rules would make hurdle for Pakistani citizens to access the free and open internet. Moreover, it will also shut off the digital economy of Pakistan and its economy will lag behind from the rest of the world.

Recommended Reading: Social Media Rules Cause Controversy in Pakistan

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