PECA Ordinance unconstitutional

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In a matter of few days, PTI faced two major blows at the legal front. After the dismissal of the Deputy Speaker’s ruling on the no-confidence motion by the Supreme Court, Islamabad High Court (IHC) on Friday declared the controversial Prevention of Electronic Crimes (Amendment) Ordinance unconstitutional and also scrapped Section 20 of the Prevention of Electronic Crimes Act 2016 that had criminalized defamation.

The journalist community expressed its pleasure over this important decision of the High Court.

Indeed, freedom of expression in all its forms and manifestations is a fundamental and inalienable right of individuals.

Additionally, it is an indispensable requirement for the very existence of a democratic society.

All people should be afforded equal opportunities to receive, seek and impart information by any means of communication without any discrimination for reasons of race, colour, sex, language, religion, political or other opinions, national or social origin, economic status, birth or any other social condition.

Having said so, though constructive criticism is and should always be welcomed but it is also important to check the abuse of freedom of speech.

Hate speech, mudslinging and character assassination is not free speech rather an abuse of freedom of expression.

Hence responsibility rests with the conventional media both electronic and print to develop their own code of conducts, ensuring that decency in content is followed and maintained.

New digital platforms have unleashed innovative journalistic practices that enable novel forms of communication and greater global reach than at any point in human history.

But disinformation and hoaxes that are popularly referred to as “fake news” are accelerating and affecting the way individuals interpret daily developments.

Fake news and sophisticated disinformation campaigns are especially problematic in any society.

Hence, it is important that governments, businesses and consumers work together to solve such problems.

The executive should promote news literacy and strong professional journalism in their societies whilst the media industry should provide high-quality journalism in order to build public trust and correct fake news and disinformation without legitimizing them.

Technology companies should invest in tools that identify fake news, reduce financial incentives for those who profit from disinformation and improve online accountability.

 

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