The new Citizens Protection (Against Online Harm) Rules were outlined earlier this year, and the Asia Internet Coalition (AIC) has been concerned since. It is because of the lack of consultation regarding this sensitive issue. It is also being said that the government is preparing to increase internet surveillance in the country. All of this, still taking place without consulting the tech industry who will be directly affected by digital surveillance.
The AIC had previously written a letter to the Prime minister of Pakistan raising their issues regarding these rules. The rules; precisely stating that the government will have the right to monitor, restrict and block the content on social media.
What does the letter say?
Concerned over this subject, the AIC asked for a wider discussion over the subject and mentioned in their letter, that unless revoked,
The AIC, comprising of all prominent social media platforms such as Google, Facebook and Twitter, says that the rules established by the government also compromise human rights. These rights squarely include people’s privacy and freedom of speech.
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After not receiving a positive response the AIC decided to write to the PM again. This letter openly states that,
“The consultation process appears to have lost credibility.”
As claimed by AIC, they are not against the formulation of social media but the rules, if ‘improperly formulated’ would actively harm the business environment in Pakistan. Because of which they demand a credible, wide-ranging, and transparent consultation. So the revised rules should be made and shared with the stakeholders for their feedback. As this will instill their trust in the policymaking process.
While all of this is being kept a secret, the government is carefully laying grounds for an extensive digital surveillance system. The confidentiality of the process is what is more unsettling for the tech companies. The officials want the citizen’s data to be recorded and stored within the boundaries of Pakistan. So that it can be accessible without a legal process.