Rules for the blocking and removal of unlawful online content set by the Federal Government

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The Federal Government has notified the rules for the blocking and removal of unlawful content online for 2020.

The notification reads, In the exercise of the powers conferred by section 51 of the Prevention of Electronic Crimes Act 2016 (XL of 2016) read with section 37 thereof, the Federal Government is pleased to approve the Rules for Removal and Blocking of Unlawful online Content (Procedure, Oversight and Safeguards) Rules, 2020 under section 37 of ‘the, Prevention of Electronic Crimes Act, 2016 earlier approved as Citizens Protection (Against Online Harm) Rules, 2020.”

The rules are to be published in the Official Gazette according to the requirements of section 37 of the Prevention of Electronic Crimes Act, 2016.

Also, according to section 37, the Pakistan Telecommunication Authority is authorised to remove any online content they can deem unlawful; the criteria for unlawful is described in sub-section (1) of section 37 of the Act. The subsection says that without any prejudice, if the online content goes against the glory of Islam, the integrity, security, and defense of Pakistan, or Public order, health, safety, decency, or morality, the PTA can and should remove it.

All social media applications with 500 thousand or more Pakistani’s registered on it will have to register themselves with the PTA and establish a designated office in Pakistan within the next nine months. After the set up of the offices, the companies have to appoint a focal person within three months to coordinate with the PTA and other governmental authorities. Data server systems will have to be put in the country within eighteen months of the establishment being built.

Besides these, any and all social media platforms live in the country will have to put up community guidelines for its users. Internet Service Providers (ISPs) across the country have also been notified of the new rules as they will also have to adhere to them.

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