Lawyers oppose new social media rules: Kurd

Says legal fraternity stands by journalists

​ Our Correspondent February 22, 2020

QUETTA: Lawyer Ali Ahmed Kurd said that lawyers’ community stood by journalists in the struggle for freedom of press in the country as the present era demanded citizens’ right to have access to information achieved through the struggle of journalists, politicians and lawyers.

He shared these views on Friday at a press conference in Quetta jointly held by Pakistan Federal Union of Journalists (PFUJ) President Shahzada Zulfiqar, Balochistan Human Rights Commission of Pakistan President Vice President Habib Tahir, Balochistan Union of Journalists President Ayub Tareen, representatives of Balochistan Car Council, Balochistan High Court Bar Association, Quetta Bar Association, Asma Jahangir Legal Aid Society and Media Matters for Democracy.

The representatives shared views on recently approved federal government’s Citizen Protection (Against Online Harm) Rules 2020 prepared by the Ministry of Information Technology and Telecommunication.

Denying the possibility of curbing social media, the lawyer said, “the government aims to curb social media platform because common man expresses opinions through it and gains power.”

Besides, Zulfiqar termed restrictions on social media a tantamount to curb media.

“The rules were framed under the Prevention of Electronic Crimes Act 2016 and the Pakistan Telecommunication (Reorganization) Act 1996 applying specifically on social media companies. The process of formulating these rules, the scope of the rules, and the method of implantation of the rules have posed serious threats to the rights to freedom of expression, press freedom, independence of media and Pakistan’s digital economy,” said Zulfiqar.

According to Zulfiqar, the new rules violate boundaries set by the parent legislation, PECA 2016.

Zulfiqar was of the opinion that the social media rules have been formulated without any public consultation, and these rules would give unfettered authority to the national coordinator’s office over social media contents.

Tareen announced to stage a sit in front of Balochistan Assembly on Feb 24 to record protest on curbs on media, particularly social media.

Meanwhile, Zulfiqar announced to hold press conferences and protests in other big cities of Pakistan against the said 2020 rules.

Published in The Express Tribune, February 22nd, 2020.


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