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Google, Facebook and Twitter threaten to leave Pakistan after Imran government suppresses their privacy

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After the Pakistani government led by Prime Minister Imran Khan announced new “draconian” rules for social media, which aim to give authorities direct powers to censor digital content, computer giants like Facebook, Twitter and Google have threatened to leave the country.

Under new rules announced by Pakistan’s Ministry of Information and Technology on Wednesday, social media companies and internet service providers will provide the designated investigative agency with all information or data in a decrypted, readable format. and understandable, the Dawn newspaper reported.

Subject to justified technical limitations, the information to be provided may include subscriber information, traffic data, content data and any other information or data.

Facebook, Google and Twitter sound the alarm over new laws

In a statement shared with Dawn on Thursday, Asia Internet Coalition (AIC), which represents Facebook, Google and Twitter, sounded the alarm on the scope of the new law targeting Internet companies, as well as the government’s “opaque process” by which these rules were drawn up.

The “Rules for Removing and Blocking Illegal Online Content (Procedure, Monitoring and Safeguards) 2020” was drafted under the Prevention of Electronic Crime Act 2016 (PECA). Tech companies have warned that the rules will make it extremely difficult for AIC members to make their services available to Pakistani users and businesses. He said the “drastic” data location requirements would hamper people’s ability to access the free and open Internet.

“Draconian data localization requirements will also shut off Pakistan’s digital economy to the rest of the world,” AIC said. The companies added that it was frightening to see the Pakistan Telecommunications Authority’s powers extended, which allowed it to force social media companies to violate established human rights standards on privacy and security. freedom of expression.

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AIC said that if Pakistan wanted to be an attractive destination for technology investments and achieve its goal of digital transformation, then it should work with the industry on practical and clear rules that protect the benefits of the internet and protect people. people from damage.

Earlier this year, Prime Minister Imran Khan pledged to launch a ‘large-scale’ consultation on content regulation after a strong reaction from stakeholders to the publication of the 2020 rules on protecting citizens (from online harm ). In October, the AIC expressed reservations about the consultation process in a letter to Khan. Pakistani social media users and rights groups have already rejected the government’s latest notification of the rules.

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