Govt Invites Facebook & Twitter for Consultation on Citizen Protection Rules 2020

Tech and Telecom

The government has invited foreign social media companies for consultation on controversial “Citizens Protection (Against Online Harm) Rules 2020”.

The government has constituted a committee to start the consultation process on Citizens Protection (Against Online Harm) Rules 2020, which attracted criticism from different segments of society.

On behalf of the consultation committee, Chairman Pakistan Telecommunication Authority (PTA) Amir Azeem Bajwa has invited Asia Internet Coalition (AIC) for the ongoing consultation process over Citizens Protection (Against Online Harm) Rules, 2020.

In a formal letter written to the Managing Director of AIC, Chairman PTA invited AIC and its members for a consultative face to face or video conferencing meeting with the committee during the coming week.

The letter has been written to Jeff Paine Managing Director Asia Internet Coalition (AIC) in response to his letter addressed to the Imran Khan, Prime Minister of Pakistan, dated 15th February 2020, conveying AIC’s concerns over The Citizens Protection (Against Online Harm) Rules 2020.

The letter stated,

Government of Pakistan and Pakistan Telecom Authority (PTA) is a strong proponent of Digital Pakistan and freedom of expression over the Internet. We are fully cognizant of the critical role played by Technology Companies in promoting the digital economy and freedom of expression. I am sure you are aware that in order to assuage concerns expressed by AIC and other segments of society over the subject Rules, Prime of Pakistan has directed to constitute a Consultation Committee to undertake open and broad-based consultation with all stakeholders. Accordingly, the implementation of the Rules has been suspended and the consultation/review process initiated. In this context, on behalf of the Consultation Committee, I would like to formally invite AIC and its members for the consultation process. The Consultation Committee looks forward to a meeting on a mutually convenient date, preferably in the week beginning 16th March 2020, to deliberate on the valuable input offered by AIC to reach upon some mutually beneficial solution. Although, a face to face meeting is preferred, in case of any travel-related issues, the option of doing a video conference meeting can be considered. Nisar Ahmed, DG CVD, PTA would be the focal person to coordinate further details.

AIC had written a letter to Prime Minister Imran Khan while Google, Facebook & other tech giants threatened to abandon Pakistan due to the rules. Prime Minister had directed for broad-based consultations with all stakeholders on the implementation of rules.

Two meetings of the consultation committee which comprises on Amir Azeem Bajwa, Chairman PTA (Convener), Eazaz Aslam Dar, Additional Secretary Ministry of IT & Telecom, Tania Aidrus, Member of Strategic Reforms Implementation Unit, Prime Minister Office, Islamabad and Dr. Arslan Khalid, Focal Person to the Prime Minister on Digital Media, Prime Minister’s Office, Islamabad held since its formation.

The Committee emphasized upon setting clear objectives to be achieved from the Rules and Consultation process be focused on the attainment of desired objectives. The committee also deliberated upon offenses under Prevention of Electronic Crimes Act (PECA 2016).

The Committee decided that a questionnaire be posted on PTA’s website for soliciting feedback from stakeholders. Furthermore, a plan for consultation meetings with stakeholders was also discussed. It also identified need for a Data Protection Law in Pakistan.

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