The Asia Internet Coalition (AIC) which encompasses the global digital media has denounced the new social media rules that have been introduced by the government of Pakistan.
The AIC which includes Google, Facebook, Apple, Twitter, Amazon and others has issued a threat to suspend the services in the nation if the laws are not revised.
In a cutting letter that was addressed to PM Khan, the AIC showed their sincere concern about the Citizens Protection Rules (against online harm). The members of the AIC are of the belief that the new rules would severely be impacting on the growth of the digital economy of Pakistan.
As per the letter, the rules as presently written would make it tedious for AIC Members to make their services available to the users and businesses in Pakistan.
The new law termed as the Citizens Protection (Against Online Harm) Rules, 2020 needs all the social media firms which include Facebook, Twitter, YouTube and TikTok to register within 3 months and set up their offices in the federal capital.
The social media platforms would have to form a data server in Pakistan within a year and block any account or bar or remove any content that breaks or affect the cultural, ethnic, religious or national security sensitivities of Pakistan and are engrossed in the spread of the fake news or defamation.
The letter further indicated that the rules demand that social media firms deviate from the set up human rights practices regarding user privacy and freedom of expression.
It further asked the Pakistani government to consider the potential effects of the rules in order to avoid the unexpected negative impacts on the economy of Pakistan.
The US diplomat for the South Asian region Alice Wells has also shown concerns over the new social media policy of the government of PTI saying that the new bars could be a setback to freedom of expression and to the development of the digital economy.
While the AIC is not against the regulation of social media the coalition is of the belief that the new rules fail to address the important issues like the internationally recognized rights of individual expression and privacy.
The new social media rules have started a controversy with many making claims that the government would use them as a tool to curb the criticism and to dissent under the domain of national security.