ISLAMABAD – The Ministry of Information Technology and Telecommunication on Thursday notified amended digital media rules introduced last year under which social media companies would have to set up offices in Pakistan and take action against objectionable content in 48 hours.
The rules titled the ‘Removal and Blocking of Unlawful Online Content (Procedure, Oversight and Safeguards) Rules, 2021’, have been framed under the Prevention of Electronic Crimes Act (PECA), 2016.
As per the rules, every individual or organisation shall have the right to express and disseminate any online content as enshrined under Article 19 of the Constitution of Islamic Republic of Pakistan, 1973.532380328-Revised-Rules-2021-12-10-2021after-Approval-of-the-Cabinet
However, the content that violates national security, dignity, religious sentiments and respect for institutions will be banned from social media platforms.
Under the new rules, there would be a ban on the live streaming of terrorist, hateful, obscene and violent content, and “social media companies will be liable to remove content against Pakistan’s honour and well-being”.
Moreover, spreading “immoral and obscene content” has been declared a punishable offence.
The rules also ask social media organisations and service providers to develop community guidelines that could inform their users about uploading content.
Moreover, the rules also direct social media companies to establish an office in Pakistan when feasible. Earlier, the government had asked them to open office within nine months.
As per the new rules, the PTA can launch proceedings against any service provider or a social media company that shows reluctance for removing or blocking access to content or comply with the local laws within a specific time period.