A government spokesperson Thursday said the new online content rules 2020 were aimed at safeguarding the country from an unprecedented onslaught of Hybrid Warfare due to regional and extra regional re-alignments.
In a statement the spokesperson said it was imperative for Pakistani state to defend itself against this speeding invasion of chaotic cyber space, which was noting less than an “unhealthy ingress, impacting social fiber of the society.”
The statement comes at a time when an EU based organisation is revealed the huge amount of disinformation and fifth generation warfare unleashed against Pakistan by over 750 fake Indian news outlets, operating from 119 countries, over 10 UN accredited NGOs.
He said the revised social media rules were prepared by a committee constituted by Prime Minister Imran Khan under the Chairman PTA, after due consultation process with various relevant national and international stake holders.
He said the draft rules after vetting by Ministry of Law Justice were processed by Ministry of Information Technology and Telecom for the Cabinet, and were approved on Oct 6.
The spokesperson pointed that social media platforms were being exploited by various quarters in Pakistan to spread fake and false narratives triggering chaos in society and adversely impacting our social, cultural and religious norms.
“The new rules define boundaries to protect masses from various online negativity including blasphemy, discrediting state, abusing institutions, appointments, individuals, inciting sectarian or ethnic hate and harassment etc.”
He said the present government has shown will to enact laws and implement them for better management of internet environment.
The decision, he said, has drawn some response from internet watchdogs, NGOs and activists who were trying to create a controversy.
“Every state adopts and enacts set of laws that confirm to its ideology, all domains of national security and foreign policy aims,” he said.
Pakistan’s digital economy was estimated to increase to the tune of US 5.5 Billion$ which in some domains was growing at 100% annual rate. The rules have virtually no impact on e-Commerce, he pointed.
He said local NGOs and activist fear that global tech companies may be forced to shut down their operations in Pakistan. However, the huge amount of business that these tech giant generate in Pakistan will never be compromised for laws that do not impact their revenue in essence.
The spokesperson said it was the obligation for any state to ensure a chaos-free society to reduce and eliminate adverse impact of fake, false, immoral, unethical, anti-religious news rumors, posts, analysis.
“This national obligation is protected and furthered by the enacted rules,” he added
He pointed that the removal, blocking of Unlawful Online Content Rules 2020 has not been prepared in thin air, rather a complete process was followed.
Engagement was carried out with the Tech companies, ISPs, digital watch dogs, legal fraternity and general public for input and the document was complied in conformity with Article 19 of the constitution (Chapter II, para 4 of PECA), the spokesperson said.