IT Ministry releases Statutory Regulatory Orders for social media – ARY NEWS


The Statutory Notification issued by the Ministry of Information Technology with a list of Statutory Regulatory Orders (SROs) to regulate social media in Pakistan was issued on Wednesday, ARY News reported.

The rules have been called the Citizens Protection (Against Online Harm) Rules, 2020.

Read More: Social media platforms to be made ‘responsible’ for harmful content

The minister in charge of the division concerned with Information Technology and Telecommunication shall, by notification, designate a National Coordinator within fifteen days of the commencement of these rules. National Coordinator shall be assisted by a committee comprising such stakeholders as notified by the aforesaid minister.

The national coordinator will be appointed by the IT ministry.

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The National Coordinator shall perform the following functions, namely:-

(a) coordinate efforts of stakeholders for the performance of functions related to the regulation of Online Systems;

(b) advise the Federal or Provincial Governments, and issue instructions to departments, authorities and agencies, in accordance with requirements of National Security in relation to management or regulation or functioning of social media companies.

The departments, authorities or agencies shall act in compliance with the said instructions. The instructions may include actions related to blocking of unlawful online content, acquisition of data or information from social media companies, and other such matters;

(c)  engage with social media companies on behalf of the Federal Government

(d) direct concerned official representatives of any social media company to appear before the appointed person to discuss any aspect related to the operation of the online system.

OBLIGATIONS OF SOCIAL MEDIA COMPANY AND SPECIAL MEASURES

Under the order social media companies must comply with the demands of the social media coordinator which may include the following:

  • The mentioned website must remove objectionable content within 24 hours of being notified.
  • If the content is deemed extremely insensitive then the social media platform must remove the notified object within 6 hours.
  • Social Media must uphold religious and security related sensitivities of the region they are operated in.
  • Social media websites must ensure the curtailment of content related to extremism and/or hate speech.
  • Stopping the influx of fake news and live streams that could compromise national security.

It has also been revealed that social media giants are directed to open Pakistan offices soon enough and register themselves with the government.

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Pakistan would be empowered to regulate and penalise social media content if they fail to abide by government directives in this regard.

The government will then also be eligible to fine social networking websites up to 500 million rupees if they fail to comply.

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