Govt endorses new rules for ‘clean’ & ‘healthy’ social media use

Staff Report

ISLAMABAD: In a bid to control ‘unchecked’ and ‘immoral’ use of social media in Pakistan, the Information Technology ministry has rolled out a set of rules which will soon be applicable on both users and the social media companies.
With the new rules in the offing, the companies will be deemed responsible to remove any published content which violates religious and moral values, threaten the defence of the country, spreads misinformation on public order or promotes vulgarity.
According to the details of the latest development in the IT sector, the Pakistan Telecommunication Authority has laid out the new set of rules which the Prime Minister and the federal cabinet have green-lighted.
The rules, according to the sources, will crackdown on the content against Islamic values and the defence of the country. Any posts that spread misinformation to disrupt the public order or promote immorality in the society will also be facing curbs.
The rules will outright reject any substance that gives rise to sectarian differences in the country or which is in any way considered blasphemous in the honour of the Prophet (SAWW).
The said rules will be relevant for all the major social media platforms including Facebook, Twitter, YouTube, Tiktok and Google Plus.
Confirming the new development on the social media rules, the federal IT minister Syed Aminul Haque said the federal cabinet approved the new regulations on social media use on October 8. He said that the ministry thoroughly analyzed the new regulations before it was sent to the cabinet for the final approval.
The federal minister said that the purpose behind the development is to ensure the platforms are healthy for the masses’ use and are clean of elements that seek to spread hatred and aggravation.
The key feature of the new regulations are:
• Social media companies with more than 500,000 users will have to register with the PTA
• The companies will open their offices in Pakistan within nine months of their virtual presence in the country
• For the coordination with the IT department, the companies will delegate their focal person within three months of their presence.
•The companies will build their database server in the country within the next 18 months of their footprint.
• The companies and/or service providers will formulate tailored community guidelines which will guide the users on the content uploading and will curb any harmful content.
• The companies will nominate their grievance officers and provide their contact information.
• Companies will work out a mechanism to keep a check on live-streaming sessions to ensure no extremist content, terrorism, hatred, vulgarity or graphic content is being broadcast.
• The ministry will shortly issue the notification for the implementation of laid-out rules.