Govt Gives New Deadline to Tech Giants Under Controversial Social Media Rules

The Ministry of Information Technology and Telecommunication (MoITT) has issued the notification of amended Social Media Rules 2021.

Named “Removal and Blocking of Unlawful Online Content (Procedure, Oversight and Safeguards) Rules 2021,” these rules require social media companies to adhere to Pakistan’s laws.

According to these rules, every citizen or organization will have the right to express and disseminate any online content as enshrined under Article 19 of the 1973 Constitution.

Furthermore, any aggrieved citizen, Ministry, Division, attached department, sub-ordinate office, provincial or local department or office, a law enforcement or intelligence agency, or a company owned or controlled by the state can file a complaint for blocking or removal of online content.

Here are some other provisions of the Social Media Rules 2021:

Social media companies must publish community guidelines for access or usage of any online information system, which must guide their users not to host, display, upload, modify, publish, transmit, update or share any online content in violation of the country’s laws.

They must avoid hosting, displaying, uploading, modifying, publishing, transmitting, updating or sharing any online content in violation of the country’s laws.

They will be required to provide any information requested by any investigation authority. The information can be in decrypted, readable, and comprehensible format or plain version.

Social media companies will be bound to immediately block live streaming related to terrorism, hate speech, pornographic, violence, and compromising of national security.

They must register establish their offices, appoint a compliance officer, and a grievance officer in the country within three months of the promulgation of these laws.

The compliance and grievance officers will be required to resolve any issue or complaint filed by the authorities within seven days.

Social media companies must comply with the country’s user data privacy and data localization.

They must deploy suitable content moderation methods including Artificial Intelligence (AI) based content moderation systems and content moderators familiar with the country’s laws.