Govt to Regulate Content on Social Media Platforms Via ‘e-Safety Bill 2023’

The federal government has decided to regulate the content on social network platforms, as well as the advertisers and e-commerce service providers, through a parliamentary act – the “e-Safety Bill, 2023”.

The Bill drafted by the Ministry of Information Technology and Telecommunication has already been approved by the Federal Cabinet on July 26, 2023, which is likely to be passed by the parliament after August 7, 2023.

Before presenting the bill in the parliament, the Ministry has decided to place the bill on its official website to seek public opinion about the proposed legislation.

The bill a copy of which is available, envisages to provide for fostering and promoting safe online social network platforms.

Any person operating a social network platform who violates or abets the violation of any of the provisions of the act or rules or regulations made thereunder shall be guilty of an offense punishable with a fine prescribed by rules.

After the commencement of this Act, the federal government would establish an authority –the e-Safety Authority for carrying out the purposes of this Act.

The powers and functions of the Authority shall be to:

  1. promote and develop social network platforms;
  2. regulate the advertisers and e-commerce service providers on social network platforms;
  3. ensure the protection of the users of the social network platforms from any kind of online harm;
  4. regulate the establishment, registration, and operation of social network platforms throughout Pakistan;
  5. regulate the content on social network platforms;
  6. grant, renew, refuse, or revoke registration of social network platforms;
  7. monitor and enforce registrations for the social network platforms;
  8. regulate the transfer of registrations and changes in management/transfer of shares of the registration holder(s);
  9. inquire, investigate, and adjudicate on its own motion or on the complaints and/or applications made against the social network platform(s) arising out of any contravention of the provision(s) of this act and any rules or regulations made thereunder and take appropriate action(s) accordingly;
  10. promote and protect the interests of users of social network platform(s) and various services provided by them in Pakistan;
  11. determine fees including fees for grant of registration and renewal, annual fees, base prices, and other charges at such rates and in respect of such ancillary matters as may be prescribed;
  12. prescribe fines for contravention of the provisions of this act or rules and regulations made thereunder;
  13. issue guidelines, directives, and standards to be maintained by the social network platform(s);
  14. carry out inspection of premises owned or occupied by the social network platform(s) and summon any person for inquiry or investigation;
  15. block access to material that promotes abhorrent violent conduct, material that incites abhorrent violent conduct, material that instructs in abhorrent violent conduct, and material that depicts abhorrent violent conduct.
  16. coordinate, monitor, or engage, in conjunction with other authorities, international agencies or organizations, in any study, training, or cooperation project related to online safety;
  17. enter into contracts for the supply of goods or services or materials or for the execution of works as may be necessary for the discharge of any of its duties and functions;
  18. advise the federal and provincial governments and any other public or private sector entities on policies relating to online safety;
  19. promote education and research in the field of online safety;
  20. advise the federal government regarding international negotiations in the area of online safety;
  21. engage in human resource development and training of its officers and staff;
  22. promote awareness about online safety issues in the public and private sector through print, digital/social and electronic media, etc., or any other medium as the authority may deem appropriate;
  23. liaise and interact with counterpart organizations in other countries for capacity building and exchange of information;
  24. propose legislation to further online safety in Pakistan;
  25. carry out capacity building and training of social network entrepreneurs and provide them with facilities, including but not limited to, setting up incubation centres to promote responsible social network platforms.

A Social Network Platform, as per the proposed bill, is

  1. an online information and content delivery system accessed via the internet and any cloud-based content distribution services such as Over the Top (OTT) platforms, Web TV channels (YouTube channels, Vlogs, Netflix, Amazon Prime etc.), and any other similar platform as the Authority may prescribe,
  2. social networking sites or other such content made available for viewing over the internet, any cloud-based content distribution service including a website, application or mobile web application, platform or communication channel, and any other such application and service that permits a person to become a registered user, establish an account, or create a public profile for the primary purpose of allowing the user to post and share user-generated content through such an account or profile or enables one or more users to generate content that can be viewed, posted and shared by other users of such platform including but not limited to Twitter, Facebook, Snapchat, Instagram, Tik Tok, etc,
  3. advertisers or e-commerce services providers.

  • Great bill , they must be regulated and Pakistani local business and software should be promoted

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