PEMRA Has No Jurisdiction Over Web Content: Senate Body

The Senate Functional Committee on Human Rights (SFCHR) has concluded that the Pakistan Electronic Media Regulatory Authority (PEMRA) does not have jurisdiction over web content.

SFCHR, in its meeting, was briefed by PEMRA on its proposal of regulating web TV and OTT content and whether it violated Article 19 of the Constitution.

The meeting was held under the chairmanship of Senator Mustafa Nawaz Khokhar here at the Parliament House on Monday and was attended by Senators Quratulain Marri, Dr. Mehr Taj Roughani, Dr. Jahanzeb Jamaldini, Keshoo Bai, Ayesha Raza Farooq, Muhammad Tahir Bizenjo, Muhammad Ali Khan Saif, Dr. Sikander Maendhro, officers from the ministry of human rights, foreign affairs, national health services, PEMRA and digital media entrepreneurs.

The question of jurisdiction was raised as to whether this can be exercised by the authority regarding online content, its implications on the young entrepreneurs and global best practices. The Committee wasn’t satisfied by the justifications given by Chairman PEMRA and concluded that the authority does not have jurisdiction over web content.

Other Matters

Ministry of Foreign Affairs told the committee that around 1094 Pakistanis are currently in the city of Wuhan and the situation is under control. 23 countries have evacuated citizens out of 120 countries who have their citizens in China. The embassy is in contact with the Pakistani students and no student has been infected by the virus. The Committee recommended that students who have been monitored and tested and not been found positive should be brought back to Pakistan.

The Committee briefly discussed The Zainab Alert, Response and Recovery Bill 2020 and The ICT Rights of Persons with Disability Bill 2020 and decided to hold a detailed session on both bills on 14 February. The Committee directed the ministry to review amendments suggested by the members as well as other stakeholders heard by the Committee and to address matters of helplines, special courts among others.