You are here: Home » International » News » Companies
Business Standard

Global technology companies threaten to leave Pakistan over new rules

The coalition said it was "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."

Topics
global technology industry | Pakistan

AP | PTI 

imran khan
There was no immediate comment from PM Imran Khan’s government, which has repeatedly said it was not against freedom of expression.

Internet and technology have threatened to leave after the government granted blanket powers to authorities to censor digital content, a move critics say was aimed at curtailing freedom of expression in the conservative Islamic nation.

Thursday’s warning from the Asia Internet Coalition, which represents global technology giants including Google, Facebook and Twitter, comes after the government of Prime Minister Imran Khan granted enhanced powers to government media regulators Wednesday.

The coalition said it was “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.”

Under the new regulations, social media or internet service providers face a fine of up to $3.14 million for failure to curb the sharing of content deemed to be defamatory of Islam, promoting terrorism, hate speech, pornography or any content viewed as endangering national security.

Social media are required to provide Pakistan’s designated investigation agency “with any information or data in decrypted, readable and comprehensible format,” according to Pakistan’s DAWN newspaper. also wants the social media companies to have their offices in the country.

The coalition said 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.” It said the new rules will make it difficult for its members “to make their services available to Pakistani users and businesses.”

There was no immediate comment from Khan’s government, which has repeatedly said it was not against freedom of expression.

Khan’s office had previously said the new rules were made after observing a delayed response in the removal of anti-Pakistan, obscene and sectarian-related content by social media sites since 2018, when Khan’s government came into power.

Under the new regulations, social media companies are required to remove or block any unlawful content from their websites within 24 hours after being reported by Pakistani authorities.

The latest development comes weeks after Khan’s government temporarily banned the video-sharing platform TikTok, saying it took the step after receiving complaints of “immoral and indecent” content.

Dear Reader,


Business Standard has always strived hard to provide up-to-date information and commentary on developments that are of interest to you and have wider political and economic implications for the country and the world. Your encouragement and constant feedback on how to improve our offering have only made our resolve and commitment to these ideals stronger. Even during these difficult times arising out of Covid-19, we continue to remain committed to keeping you informed and updated with credible news, authoritative views and incisive commentary on topical issues of relevance.
We, however, have a request.

As we battle the economic impact of the pandemic, we need your support even more, so that we can continue to offer you more quality content. Our subscription model has seen an encouraging response from many of you, who have subscribed to our online content. More subscription to our online content can only help us achieve the goals of offering you even better and more relevant content. We believe in free, fair and credible journalism. Your support through more subscriptions can help us practise the journalism to which we are committed.

Support quality journalism and subscribe to Business Standard.

Digital Editor

First Published: Sat, November 21 2020. 01:30 IST
RECOMMENDED FOR YOU
.