Asia Internet Coalition (AIC), a coalition of major technology giants, issued a statement on Thursday, November 19, against Pakistan’s “Removal and Blocking of Unlawful Content (Procedure, Oversight and Safeguards) Rules”.

About “Removal And Blocking Of Unlawful Content Rules”

“Removal and Blocking of Unlawful Content (Procedure, Oversight and Safeguards) Rules” became enforceable in Pakistan, as of November 18, 2020. These regulations govern service providers and social media firms offering their services in Pakistan.

According to the rules, service providers and social media companies are obligated to remove or block any unlawful content on their platforms within a span of twenty-four hours from the time of the content being reported as unlawful by the authorities of Pakistan.

Additionally, these platforms and service providers are under an obligation to publish clear Community Guidelines that shall govern the actions of users of respective social media platforms.

Not only this, but the operators are also compelled to abide by Pakistan’s local data protection laws that govern the storage and dissemination of user data.

Matter Of Concern For Internet And Tech Firms

Under Pakistan’s new regulations, social media giants and ISPs shall be subject to a fine of up to $3.14 million in the event of their failure to prohibit unlawful content.

Any content defaming Islam, promoting terrorism, pornography, and hate speech, and endangering national security, qualifies as unlawful content.

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Critics believe that these censorship laws would curtail freedom of expression in Pakistan. However, Pakistani Prime Minister, Imran Khan’s government has repeatedly declined this claim.

Other than the censorship obligations, Pakistan demands that the social media firms offering their services in the country should have their established offices in Pakistan.

Additionally, they are required to provide decrypted, readable, and comprehensible data to Pakistan’s designated investigation agency, as reported by DAWN in Pakistan.

Asia Internet Coalition’s Statement

The Asia Internet Coalition comprises major tech giants such as Google, Facebook, Twitter, Apple, Amazon, LinkedIn, Yahoo, and more. In a statement dated November 19, it highlighted its concerns against these new policies.

Official statement released by Asia Internet Coalition

It described how these rules would affect the ability of the public in Pakistan to access the internet freely and it might cut off Pakistan’s digital economy from the rest of the world. It hinted at the probability of these tech giants leaving Pakistan if any action was not taken. 

The statement mentioned, “The Rules would make it extremely difficult for AIC Members to make their services available to Pakistani users and businesses.” The coalition wants the government to reconsider its move.

The course of the story is yet to be uncovered and its impact would be witnessed in the near future.

Image Credits: Google Images, Twitter

Sources: Hindustan Times, India Today, ANI

Find the blogger: @_RitikaNijhawan

This post is tagged under: Facebook, Twitter, Google, Technology firms, social media platforms, social media in Pakistan, facebook in Pakistan, Pakistan censorship laws, freedom of expression, data protection laws, Asia Internet Coalition

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