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Social Media Regulatory Bill Would Be Revised, Says Shafqat Mehmood

The Citizens Protection Rules 2020, which earlier raised concerns for advocates of digital freedom and internet privacy, will be revised and amended after including all stakeholders, confirmed Federal Minister for Education Shafqat Mahmood.

While talking in a program of Geo News, the minister stated that Prime Minister Imran Khan is open to revisiting the bill meant to regulate social media operations in the country by having the companies register themselves.

“The bill is not finalized yet, meetings are being conducted to discuss it further. The meetings will amend the issued notification,” said Shafqat Mehmood.

Earlier, the government issued a notification to international social media companies to register themselves in Pakistan and set up their offices. In addition, the companies were directed to set up their data servers locally and provide information on account holders if involved in digital crimes.

Additionally, the notice stated that in case objectionable content – identified by the government officials – is uploaded. The social media companies would have to take it down within 15 days, failing to do which could result in suspension of services or fine up to Rs500 million.

The objectionable content included blasphemous messages, hate speech against government, military or other state institutions and targeting certain communities through the content.

However, the bill had raised concerns over digital media freedom and freedom of expression in the country.

“Finally Federal Minister for Education @Shafqat_Mahmood revealed that Govt of Pakistan has decided to review the new social media regulation and its notification will be cancelled soon PM @ImranKhanPTI will consult all stakeholders in this regard to make new regulation,” tweeted anchorperson Hamid Mir.

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