Interior Minister, Chaudhry Nisar has clarified that no restriction has been imposed on social media. However, the government will not allow uncontrolled use of the same.
He was speaking at a press conference that he called regarding the arrests and release of social media activists who were picked up by the FIA over allegations that they posted anti-army comments online.
Chaudhry Nisar told the press conference “We all realize the importance of social media. There are rules for every institution, organisation and government, but, unfortunately no such rules exist for social media.”
He reminded the media that posts against national institutions began to surface during the past two weeks.
The minister informed that 27 social media accounts have already been identified for posting offensive material and six people have been interviewed for the same reason.
All persons under investigation were asked to bring their lawyers with them during the questioning, added Chaudhry Nisar. Their electronic devices will be forensically tested and if evidence is found, the accused will be arrested.
In addition to that he said that the constitution of Pakistan, institutions and values of the country were under attack by a certain segment of the social media.
“It is not my personal issue, or that of the Pakistan Muslim League-Nawaz (PML-N), rather it is an issue of society. Our cultural and religious values are under attack from a section of social media.”
The minister told that the FIA crackdown against blasphemous material had resulted in a sharp decline in offensive content being posted on social media.
Future Steps Against Such Issues
He was of the view that Standard operating procedures (SOPs) should be made for social media and as a guide for future generations to protect them against ‘trash’ on social media. Nisar confirmed he had ordered the FIA to take “indiscriminate action be initiated against all those involved, even if someone was from the PML-N.”
Interior minister informed that the government does not want to block social media but it needs to be regulated to prevent illegal content in the name of freedom of expression. “We want social media to grow but it must come under some law or code of conduct,” he added.
Internet Service Providers (ISPs) might also have to adhere to certain SOPs to prevent misuse of social media. Chaudhry Nisar told that efforts are being made to track internet users’ activities and easily hunt down undesirable ‘elements.’
He mentioned that he had a detailed meeting with all representative bodies of media including APNS, CPNE and PBA. The agenda of the meetings was to evolve a consensus to safeguard national security interests and the recommendations of the members will be implemented and code of conduct will be developed regarding national security. Media bodies will work together on the matter.