December 10, 2020
ISLAMABAD—Asia Internet Coalition (AIC) has expressed grave concern over the recently notified Removal and Blocking of Unlawful Online Content (Procedure, Oversight, and Safeguards) Rules 2020 and urged Prime Minister Imran Khan to ensure critical changes to the rules through credible consultation.
Jeff Paine, AIC managing director, said the coalition members were alarmed by the scope of Pakistan’s new rules and the opaque process through which they were finalized.
The official pointed out that the extensive and broad-based consultation the prime minister promised stakeholders in February never occurred.
“PTA had committed during bilateral meetings with AIC and its member companies to share a draft copy of the Rules. Furthermore, the Ministry of Information Technology and Telecommunication recently update the Rules on their website without explanation or due process. Industry stakeholders have, therefore lost trust in the consultation process because it is neither credible not transparent,” Paine wrote.
He said that instead of clarifying the scope of the powers given to the PTA, these rules create further confusion for both users and online platforms in Pakistan. “Large portion of the Rules are not only unworkable for global internet platforms, they go beyond the scope of the Parent Act (PECA 2016), putting their legality into question.”
The official said that the data localization requirements in the rules would prevent Pakistanis from accessing a free and open internet and shut Pakistan’s digital economy off from the rest of the world. “Moreover, PTA’s powers have been expanded excessively, allowing them to force social media companies to violate established human rights norms on privacy and freedom of expression.”
Daily Times, November 5, 2016
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