Thursday October 14, 2021

Information Ministry Issues Social Media Rules 2021

Islamabad: The government on Thursday announced it will take action against any individual posting “immoral content” on social media platforms under the Social Media Rules 2021 issued by the Ministry of Information Technology and Telecommunication.

Federal Minister for Information and Technology Amin-ul-Haq, in a statement, said the amended rules would give Pakistani consumers “full freedom of expression” under Article 19 of the Constitution, however, the promotion of “immoral and obscene” material would be considered a felony.

The rules will act as an important bridge between Pakistani users and social media institutions, while the companies will have to abide by local laws and ensure the rights of users, the federal minister said.

The rules will ban live streaming of extremist, terrorist, hateful, obscene, and violent content, Haq said, adding that social media outlets would be required to remove content that violates Pakistan’s “dignity and security”.

The federal minister said in view of the new rules, negative content against people and content related to the private life of others will be banned.

Similarly, content against Pakistan’s cultural and moral values, children’s mental and physical development will be banned, the federal minister said.

New rules direct social media companies to ensure the following in three months of them coming into force:

Register themselves with the Pakistan Telecommunication (PTA);

Appoint an authorised compliance officer, based in Pakistan, for ensuring compliance with the provisions of the Act;

Appoint a dedicated grievance officer based in Pakistan for the redressal of grievances received by him against online content.

Prime Minister Imran Khan has also formed the National Social Media Coordination Working Group (NSMCWG) to work on relevant policies related to social media, provide input to the government on social media-related issues, and engage with international companies in a coherent and coordinated manner.

Director BoloBhi Usama Khilji said the NSMCWG add yet another “unnecessary layer” to the government’s social media management, as he slammed the move.

“The composition and chairing of this working group is telling of the state’s view of social media matters: headed by the national security advisor, missing the human rights ministry, sidelining the IT Ministry, which should be responsible for coordinating these matters, and ignoring the government’s heavily funded digital media wing,” he added.

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