In a swift move, the Ministry of IT and Telecom has sent the E-Safety Bill to the Ministry of Law and the bill has been removed from the IT Ministry’s website.
Sources in the IT Ministry told ProPakistani that the Bill has been sent to the Law Ministry for preliminary vetting. The law ministry will propose changes in the basic structure of the bill, after which it will be uploaded again on the website.
In response to a query, Syed Amin Ul Haq, the Federal Minister of IT and Telecommunication, expressed his reluctance to provide a statement regarding the E-safety bill. Nevertheless, he emphasized the intention to engage with all stakeholders, including social media companies, in the consultation process concerning the bill.
The federal cabinet gave approval of the E-Safety bill on July 26, 2023, in order to tighten the monitoring of online content. The e-Safety Bill was uploaded on the IT Ministry’s website a few days ago and suggestions were sought from the industry and citizens.
Under the bill, a new authority will be created by limiting the powers of PTA, FIA, and PEMRA. The registration and monitoring of all websites, web channels, and news YouTube channels will be done by this authority.
The same entity will also have the authority to register and monitor the websites of news channels and newspapers. The authority will be able to block and fine websites for running false news.
After the E-Safety Bill appeared on the ministry’s website, the Asia Internet Coalition wrote a letter to Prime Minister Shahbaz Sharif and showed concern over the proposed e-safety and data protection bill. The Asia Internet Coalition has asked the Government of Pakistan to Consult the industry on the bill and address the concerns of social media companies and stakeholders.