The Islamabad High Court (IHC) gave till April 2 to the government to make amendments to the new social media rules introduced earlier this year. It also directed the attorney general to submit a report to the court on the same date.
“A verdict on the petitions challenging the policy will be announced once we have seen the report,” the court stated.
The controversial policy – Removal and Blocking of Unlawful Online Content (Procedure, Oversight, and Safeguards) Rules 2020 – was put forth by the government in November last year. It was aimed at enforcing the rules intended for social media companies on the Internet Service Providers. According to a statement by the Pakistan Telecommunication Authority (PTA), “These rules provide for safeguards, process, and mechanism for exercise of powers by the Authority under the Act for removal of or blocking access to unlawful Online Content through any information system.”
The new policy also requires a national coordinator to coordinate with all stakeholders towards regulating the online systems. However, soon after its introduction, the government’s policy drew the ire of the tech sector. It was termed as “Draconian” and against the freedom of speech, whilst the digital rights foundation also expressed grave concern amongst other stakeholders.