Govt Seeks Rs. 20 Billion in Upcoming Budget to Control Social Media

The federal government wants Rs. 20 billion next fiscal year to not just enhance cybersecurity but also to regulate and better control social media across the country.

With this, only social media companies with local offices in Pakistan will be allowed to operate, reported Express Tribune.

The Ministry of IT & Telecom requested Rs. 20 billion for the Digital Information Infrastructure Initiative (DIII) in the 2024-25 budget. This request was submitted to the finance division for inclusion in the next fiscal year’s expenditure.

The IT Ministry has already received Rs. 15 billion for DIII in the current fiscal year through a technical supplementary grant.

The DIII project has a total estimated cost of around $135 million (Rs. 38 billion). Most of this amount is being used this year, with the remaining funds requested for the next fiscal year.

The government is of the view that the new technology will help regulate social media, curb its misuse, and thwart malicious campaigns. The government has already banned X (formerly Twitter) in Pakistan, although many, including government officials, access it with a Virtual Private Network (VPN).

From what looks like almost a certainty next fiscal year, social media platforms will likely be instructed to establish physical offices in Pakistan. A legislative framework is being considered to formalize these regulations under the Pakistan Electronic Crime Act (PECA) 2016.

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