Google, Facebook & Other Tech Giants Threaten to Abandon Pakistan

With the passage of Citizens Protection Rules (Against Online Harm), Pakistan’s government envisaged exercising significant influence on tech giants like Facebook, Google, Twitter and others.

However, the joint response from Asian Internet Coalition (AIC) might have rattled the Pakistani government as they have threatened to abandon their services in Pakistan, sending 70 million internet users into digital darkness.

While tech companies claim that they are not against the regulation of social media in order to curb spread of fake news, the way in which these regulations have been enacted has made AIC members re-evaluate their willingness to operate in Pakistan.


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Tech companies have communicated their apprehensions through a collective letter to the Prime Minister, Imran Khan.

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The letter terms the latest set of regulations as vague and arbitrary in nature and in contradiction to the Prime Minister’s vision of digital Pakistan.


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These regulations oppose the stance of the Pakistani government that it is open for business and investment opportunities. These rules, if not revoked, can cripple an already struggling Pakistani economy.

The letter states:

In fact, the rules as currently written would make it extremely difficult for AIC Members to make their services available to Pakistani users and businesses.

Tech companies claim that the Pakistani government wants them to deviate from established human rights practices regarding freedom and expression and user privacy.

AIC members have repudiated perception found within Pakistan’s government that other countries have either enacted similar regulations or are holding deliberations to pass similar laws.

The letter refers to Vietnam’s cybersecurity laws and United Kingdom’s Online Harms White Paper.

Although Vietnam’s Parliament had passed digital media regulations in 2018, the Cyber Security Laws are yet to become effective in the country. As for the UK, Johnson’s government has clarified on February 20 that new rules will never disregard the right to freedom of expression under the pretense of digital media regulations.

The letter concludes as:

We urge the Government of Pakistan to consider the potential consequences of the Rules in order to prevent unexpected negative impacts on Pakistan’s economy. We hope to have the opportunity to share more detailed feedback with the Government of Pakistan in the near future.

About AIC:

AIC is an association that seeks to promote the understanding and resolution of internet policy issues in the Asia Pacific region.

Apple, Facebook, Google, Airbnb, LinkedIn, Yahoo, and Amazon are all members of the AIC.

Via: New York Times

    • Mistakes aside, Google and Facebook have both actively fought big governments, including the US and Chinese governments to stop them from just doing whatever they want.

      And why do you think things like encryption are now common in both iPhone and Android? Because the big companies chose to reject power grabs by the government and protect the people where they could (without violating existing laws – so that there would be precedent and so it would become more difficult for them to make laws that compromise the people)

      These are companies that have grown from nothing to being at the level of wealth of many smaller countries in the space of years. The overall quality of the people leading them is higher than those available in most governments.

      Who understands the internet well enough to understand what impact regulations could have outside of top people at companies like Google?

  • The total ban from tech giants will only make our local tech companies to thrive. Please leave our country. We are capable enough to make our own products.

    • Foolishness. Pakistan has neither the money nor business infrastructure to really make companies of this level.

      And even if it could, not being able to move forward with the rest of the world as technology advances is more of an attempt at suicide.

      Pakistan has made some progress in recent years. But if you took away globalization, would you even have a smart phone today?

      Even US companies have the sense to not compete where they can’t eventually make more money from the investment.

      Apple buys most of its parts from Samsung. Because that is wiser than foolishly trying to recreate high level work where it won’t benefit you to do so.

      And it is through such practical decisions that it is the richest company in the world.

      • بھائی جی کھرے اصولوں پر فیصلے کرنے سے قومیں آگے بڑھتی ہیں نہ کہ ذلت او خوف سے۔ کیا اوقات ہے ان دو ٹکے کی اے آئی سی کی؟۔

  • Either setup local offices in Pakistan or ban them all.We should launch something local which can help Pakistan economy just look at letter wording these tech giants are insulting 200 million population of Pakistan and somehow saying look you will starve to death without us.

    • They’re not insulting the Pakistani people, they’re saying that government shouldn’t just think it knows best without talking to people and understanding all the real issues involved.

      It’s normal to have at least a several month period for feedback from industry experts before trying to change rules that will affect everyone and all businesses.

      The simplest privacy option Pakistan could try to go with would be GDPR, because Eueope collectively did have the bargaining power to push it through.

      Changes to tech infrastructure also cost money (even if the new rules were actually good), and it’s not like the Pakistani government can pay all those companies for the amount of work they’d have to do.

      In general, all regulations cause problems for businesses. It’s not even uncommon for many smaller businesses especially to be destroyed because of careless government regulations, because they can’t handle the overheads.

      Regulations should always be well thought out.

      • لیکن آپ یہ کیوں نہیں دیکھتے کہ کوئی ہمارے ملک کی حکومت کو، چاہے وہ کسی بھی پارٹی کی ہو، کوئی دھمکی دے ہی کیوں۔ اور پھر یہ لعنتی بجائے اپنی چیز کو بیچنے کیلئے جھکیں الٹا اکڑ کے بات کر رہے ہیں۔ لاتیں مار کے نکال دو انہیں۔ غیرت کے تقاضے پورے کرنا ضروری ہے۔ یہ گدھے حکومت کی شکل میں بائیس کروڑ عوام کو ڈرا رہے ہیں۔ ہم نہیں ڈرتے الحمدللہ

        • ڈالر کے لیے ماں بیچنے والے غیرت کی بات کرتے ہیں

  • We have lived already without Facebook and YouTube for a longtime. We can survive and thrive without these black mailers. We just need to show the courage.

    • “Survival” is not exactly a high goal. Hurting oneself due to pride is not how countries advance. And Pakistan is already on a path to being farther behind India.

      The YouTube ban some years ago. For the sake of one anti-Islam video, to ban a site with huge amounts of educational content and even Islamic content…

      The quality of decision making by the Pakistani government at the time, was just embarrassing.

      It would be better if these leaders learned some humility and then went out to learn from what policies really have produced good results in other countries rather than trying to figure things out in such a careless manner.

    • What am absolutely brain dead thing to say. How are you even alive being as stupid as your are?

      • It’s related to standards, and also understanding of networks.

        Some people are okay with a simpler and lower standard of living.

        And very few people understand the practical and business side of things.

        Most people work for others. It’s natural for them to not face the need to understand such details. They’re not even always easy to understand.

  • It’s interesting seeing many of the responses on this article.

    It’s not uncommon even for the US Government to try to regulate the internet in stupid ways because they can’t comprehend the real consequences.

    The idea of making local competitors to the great tech giants is beyond insanity. It’s nearly impossible to match the kind of investment that allowed there platforms to exist. Already, Pakistan is behind due to lack of suitable internet infrastructure.

    Anyway, the biggest problem in Pakistan is the style of leadership. It still has feudal “your lords know best, you should submit and be grateful” tendencies. That way of thinking isn’t well suited to advancement.

    It’s very difficult for a few people at the top to understand the countless details of the real world that one must account for to build better systems.

  • I’m going to share a completely unrelated example to help make this easier to understand:

    Amazon found that for every 0.1sec slow down in their site, they lose around 1% of sales. Which means that if the whole site was slowed down by that much (a period of time that most people wouldn’t even consciously notice) for a year, they’d lose around $2 billion.

    When you’re talking about massive scale, very small details about decisions matter. And getting those details right and refining them is necessary if you want really good results. Otherwise, you often don’t get the results you want.

    Like corruption in Pakistan. Just because someone creates laws against something doesn’t mean that things work out how they imagined in the real world.

    Trump is very confident that he knows what is best. Which is to a large degree a result of the Dunning Kruger effect. Where people who lack knowledge and experience in a domain tend to be overconfident of how well they understand things – because they don’t understand enough about it to be able to judge what competence would look like.

    Which is a common human failing. It’s good to be humble when you have power, lest you make bad decisions that affect the lives of millions of people in ways you didn’t foresee.

  • Fb aur Twitter per Shaan e nabuwat mei jab gustakhi hoty hai to ye FB tweeter Kuch ni bolta na jawab deta hai .. behra ban Jata hai …..
    Aur dosry Taraf hamary government bhi koi bill ni laty …. Ab jab government k against Likha Jata hai to ordinance b ajata hai
    Sirf aik Baat
    Tum sab chalo apni chalain … Allah apni tadbeer chalraha hai

    • Facebook protects everyone’s right to say what they want (within reason). They also don’t stop Muslims from having tons of groups, and even some of the worse groups of Muslims – so long as they’re not promoting violence.

      Principles like Freedom of Speech are part of why so many religions can exist in the US and much of Europe.

      Whereas, in Pakistan the views and lives of minorities are not always respected very well. Strange things happen with no one caring enough to stop them.

      Why do Pakistanis want to move to the US? Outside of the hope for money, it’s a country that offers more freedom and safety – no matter who you are.

  • اے آئی سی والو ذرا جلدی دفعان ہو جاؤ تاکہ سکون ملے۔
    اگر ہم نے اس سے بھی بری معیشت کے ساتھ جوہری بم سمیت کئی اہم کام کر لئے ہیں تو تمھارے دفع ہو جانے سے آسمان نہیں گر جائے گا۔
    ہم نیوکلیئر طاقت ہیں دھمکی نہیں سنتے۔
    تم جاؤ۔

    • Pakistan didn’t develop nuclear weapons on its own. And if Pakistan wasn’t helping the US in the cold war at the time, no one would’ve let Pakistan develop nuclear weapons.

      It’s also really old technology and not something special. People overvalue the perception of power.

      In reality, Pakistan’s economy overall is nowhere near as developed as it could have been with better leadership and better culture.

      • The sad thing is that for Pakistan to really advance, the way people think about things is what has to change and advance – and in a widespread way.

        This unthinking and yet prideful attitude, won’t take Pakistan anywhere good.

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