Govt to review social media rules

Lahore, 25th January: Islamabad High Court has reported that the Government of Pakistan will review social media rules. 

Baaghi TV: The government is ready to review new social media rules introduced last year.

Attorney General of Pakistan Khalid Jawed Khan told the Islamabad High Court (IHC) during a hearing on Monday that the government will consult all stakeholders in this regard.

IHC Chief Jus­tice Athar Minallah heard a petition by the Pakistan Federal Union of Journalists (PFUJ) against social media rules introduced by the government last year in November.

The new rules, which are criticised as ‘draconian’ were introduced through the Removal and Blocking of Unlawful Online Content Rules 2020 under the Prevention of Electronic Crimes Act 2016 and were immediately rejected by many stakeholders such as the Internet Service Providers of Pakistan,

The AGP informed during the hearing today in the court that the government supported a review of the social media rules and a review will be held after consultation with relevant stakeholders and petitioners.

As per reports from the Dawn News, Justice Minallah said the matter of enforcing social media rules involved Article-19 (Freedom of Speech) and Article-19A (Right to Information) of the Constitution related to fundamental rights.

He said relevant stakeholders were apparently not consulted during the formulation of the social media rules.

He added, “Pakistan Bar Council and PFUJ are important stakeholders in this matter.”

AGP Khan assured the court that the petitioners would be consulted and the government will not restrict nor close any social media platform.

He requested the court to give some time during which the government could review the rules together with the Pakistan Telecom Authority and the concerned stakeholders.

Justice Minallah told the attorney general to present his recommendations to the stakeholders if they were ready to review the social media rules.

However, Advocate Usama Khawar, representing the PFUJ, informed the court that they had been previously called for a consultation but their recommendations were not given any importance.

The case has been adjourned to February 26.

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