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Pakistan: Tech companies threaten to leave country if social media rules remain

Just Earth News | @justearthnews | 21 Nov 2020 Print

Pakistan: Tech companies threaten to leave country if social media rules remain Pakistan

Islamabad: The Pakistan government recently notified rules that define how social media will be governed in the country, prompting the technology companies to announce that the regulations would make it difficult for them to continue their operations in the country, media reports said on Saturday.

The rules titled, “Removal and Blocking of Unlawful Online Content (Procedure, Oversight and Safeguards) Rules 2020,” have been framed under the Prevention of Electronic Crimes Act 2016 (Peca), reports Dawn News.

In a statement shared with Dawn on Thursday, the Asia Internet Coalition (AIC) expressed its alarm over the scope of the new law targeting internet companies, as well as the government’s “opaque process” by which these rules were developed.

“The consultation that was announced in February never occurred,” AIC managing director Jeff Paine regretted in the statement.

The tech companies warned that the rules would make it extremely difficult for AIC members to make their services available to Pakistani users and businesses.

As per the new rules in Pakistan, social media companies shall provide the designated investigation agency with any information or data in decrypted, readable and comprehensible format.

“The draconian data localisation requirements will damage the ability of people to access a free and open internet and shut Pakistan’s digital economy off from the rest of the world,” the AIC said.