Photo has been used for illustrative purposes.
Tariq Butt, Correspondent
The federal government has approved a set of rules to regulate social media in Pakistan, under which social media companies will be obliged to disclose any information or data to a designated investigation agency, when sought, and failure to abide by any of the provision will entail a fine of up to Rs500 million.
The information to be provided may include subscriber information, traffic data or content data.
Under the rules which are set to open a Pandora’s box, social media platforms will be required to remove any “unlawful content” pointed out to them in writing or electronically signed email within 24 hours, and in emergency cases within six hours.
These firms will have to establish registered offices with physical address located in Islamabad within next three months. These companies will also be required to appoint a Pakistan-based focal person for co-ordination with the relevant authorities within three months and establish one or more database servers in Pakistan within 12 months to record and store data and online content.
Information Technology Secretary Shoaib Ahmad Siddiqui said that the rules were approved by the federal cabinet in its meeting on Jan.28 and opined that no fresh legislation was required. “This is a subordinate legislation under the Pakistan Telecommunication (re-organisation) Act, 1996 and the Prevention of Electronic Crimes Act, 2016,” he said.
“The Minister In Charge of the Division concerned with Information Technology and Telecommunication shall, by notification, designate a National Coordinator within fifteen days of the commencement of these rules. National Coordinator shall be assisted by a committee comprising such stakeholders as notified by the aforesaid Minister,” a document says.
The national coordinator will advise the federal or provincial governments and issue instructions to departments, authorities and agencies, in accordance with requirements of national security, in relation to management or regulation or functioning of social media companies.
The departments, authorities or agencies will be required to comply with the instructions. Such instructions may include actions related to blocking of unlawful online content and acquisition of data or information from social media companies. The national coordinator will engage with the social media companies and direct representatives of any company to appear before him in person to discuss any aspect related to operation of online system.
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