Facebook, Google Threaten to Abandon Pakistan

Pakistan’s Citizens Protection Rules (Against online harm) by the Government is causing a huge concern for tech companies like Facebook, Twitter, Google, and others.

In a joint response by Asian Internet Coalition (AIC), the companies have raised their concern and hinted to abandon their services in Pakistan. If this happens, the country of about 70 million internet users will be thrown into digital darkness.

The companies have also said that they are not against the regulation of social media. It is introduced to stop fake news but the law has forced the tech companies to reconsider their decision about operating in Pakistan.

Here’s the original letter addressed to the Prime Minister of Pakistan, Imran Khan.

Pakistan’s Citizen Protection Against Online Harm

A deep dive into the bill that many believe will curb social media freedoms

Citizen Protection Against Online Harm came into fruition on Jan 21 when the Federal Cabinet of Pakistan proposed the creation of a National Coordinator whose main objective is to coordinate efforts to regulate the Social Media Online System.

Currently, if any citizen has any issue with online content he has to file a case or use cybercrime as a tool. However, Most people who are complaining about this bill.

I bet many haven’t even read the bill.

In Chapter 4 of the (CPAOH) Introduces a clause “Filling of a complains” which basically set rules and regulation regarding online content. These regulations are very important for the future as we rely more and more on social media for our news and we need oversight to separate facts from fiction.

The Effect:

If someone accuses other of some wrongdoing using this bill it will force the National Coordinator to investigate that matter and if found guilty, press charges, and make sure your civil liberties are not challenged.

The real question is how do you separate fake news from fact news. Many pundits believe that is against freedom of speech and have even filed in petitions. Many critics believe the new rule will hamper the digital economy.

The Current Situation:

To put things in a clear perspective, we as a nation already don’t have a policy in place that regulates social policy.

Any person can say anything to anyone without any proof for monetary gain or perhaps for fame. They call it the freedom to voice their opinion.

They can damage a person’s livelihood and cause harm.

Recently, Alice Wells, a US Diplomat expressed concern regarding Federal Cabinet`s policy “Saying the new restriction will be a setback to freedom of expression and development of the digital economy”.

The CAOPH postulate that social media companies have to register within 3 months, must have established a registered office with a physical address, Appoint a focal person based in Pakistan to coordinate with National Coordinator, establish a data server within 12 months with the role of citizen data privacy, shall remove or suspend any content that is considered to be fake.

Who knows what lurks in the deep web that works to hamper a country`s progress. I feel these policies as a welcome sight as we need to have social company offices in Pakistan. This will also create new jobs in the country.