The Asia Internet Coalition (AIC) which includes tech giants Facebook, Google, Apple, Amazon, Twitter, and others released a statement in which it has condemned the approval of 'Removal and Blocking of Unlawful Online Content Rules 2020' by the federal government.
“AIC and its member companies are alarmed by the scope of Pakistan’s new law targeting internet companies, as well as the government’s opaque process by which these rules were developed,” the statement read.
The government passed social media rules on November 20, 2020 despite criticism and protests from human rights activists and organisations.
The rules which broaden PTA's powers will be damaging for Pakistan's digital economy, according to AIC. The AIC members may have to discontinue their services in Pakistan due to the new rules which go against prevailing human rights norms worldwide.
"The draconian data localization 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.
"The Rules would make it extremely difficult for AIC Members to make their services available to Pakistani users and businesses. If Pakistan wants to be an attractive destination for technology investment and realise its goal of digital transformation, we urge the Government to work with industry on practical, clear rules that protect the benefits of the internet and keep people safe from harm."
The Asia Internet Coalition (AIC) and its member companies are alarmed by the scope of #Pakistan’s new law targeting #internet companies, as well as the government’s opaque process by which these rules were developed.https://t.co/niKzIzXKli— Asia Internet Coalition (AIC) (@asia_aic) November 20, 2020
A National Coordinator will be established acording to the new rules which will be responsible for coordinating with stakeholders for regulating Online Systems.
One of the new rules, requires a 'Social Media Company' to remove, suspend or disable access to any Online Content within twenty-four hours, and in emergency situations within six hours, after being intimated by the Authority that any particular Online Content is in contravention of any provision of the Act, or any other law, rule, regulation or instruction of the National Coordinator according to Digital Rights Foundation Pakistan.
The Prime Minister’s February statement that urged the consultation committee to “undertake extensive and broad-based consultation” with all relevant stakeholders never took place.
AIC has urged the Government once again to work with industry on practical, clear rules that protect the benefits of the internet and keep people safe from harm.