The Pakistan Bar Council (PBC) said that social media laws are the same as blocking freedom of expression. Pakistan Bar Council condemn new social media laws calling it censorship on freedom of expression and demanding withdrawal of new laws.
Parliament, Senate and Provincial Assemblies reject new laws, the Pakistan Bar Council said in a statement.
The Bar Council says political parties should also raise their voices against censorship, opposing political forces against oppressive laws.
The Pakistan Bar Council declares that the new social media laws are in conflict with Articles 14,19 and 19A of the Constitution, while the new rules are also against international law and treaties.
The Asia Internet Coalition (AIC) has expressed regret that the government of Pakistan has issued rules to regulate social media without consulting stakeholders while at the same time urging the concerned authorities to take action against it.
According to a newspaper report, AIC is an industry alliance with major Internet and technology companies such as Facebook, Twitter, Google, Amazon, Airbnb, Apple, Booking.com, Expedia Group, Grab, LinkedIn, Line, and yahoo.
In a statement issued in this regard, AIC Managing Director Jeff Penn said, “The Government of Pakistan has issued a comprehensive set of online rules without consultation with stakeholders and industry. There is a deep concern about it.”
It is pertinent to note that the Citizens Protection (Against Online Harm) Rules 2020 were notified under the Pakistan Telecommunications (Reorganization) Act 1996 and the Prevention of Electronic Crimes Act, 2016.
These rules include comprehensive guidelines for social media companies on content and links in Pakistan, including establishing a permanent office in the federal capital, recording and storing data in the country for the privacy of citizens’ data. Regardless of the regulation policies, it involves the government’s request to remove any content.
The federal government has created new rules for social media, the federal cabinet has also approved these rules, the regulatory authority will be set up to control social media. The objection will order the removal of the content within 6 hours. If not implemented, the related social media services will be shut down in Pakistan.