Government decides to regulate social media in Pakistan
According to Federal Minister for Information Fawad Chaudhry, the government has decided to disband Pakistan Electronic Media Regulatory Authority (PEMRA) and create Pakistan Media Regulatory Authority, which will oversee and regulate electronic, print, and social media in Pakistan.
Currently, there is no institution in Pakistan which is actively regulating social media. PTA, to some extent, handles controversial posts and activities on social media. While FIA’s cyber crime wing is working to deal with the malicious use of social media. How much of social media will fall under the jurisdiction of this new regulatory authority, and how will it affect millions of users in Pakistan is currently unknown. The information minister did not provide any more details about this particular aspect of the regulatory authority at the moment.
Social media censorship is already on the rise in Pakistan. According to official statistics by Facebook, Pakistan tops the list for blocking content. With more than 2,203 restricted posts/videos, Pakistan is the country with the most requests for censoring Facebook content. This move to regulate social media might result in more stringent censorship across the board.
The information minister discussed this development while addressing a conference on ‘National Security, Nation-building and Mass Media’ organized by the Pakistan Institute of Conflict and Security Studies on Thursday. While throwing light over the current state of media and challenges being faced by it, he said:
“In Pakistan, media enjoys freedom and is effective too as it can be compared with that of any developed country. Under the current media regulatory regime, there is a lot of pressure on the Pakistani media and it is possible that in the coming years the media might have to face even bigger challenges. With the arrival of globalization and artificial intelligence, along with various industries the media industry will also be affected. As a result the media industry could further shrink.”
He asserted the need for the media industry to accept global trends and transform themselves accordingly.