IHC issues notice to PTI govt over social media policy
Statesman Report
ISLAMABAD: The Islamabad High Court (IHC) on Thursday issued a notice to the federal government in a case against the proposed Citizens Protection (Against Online Harm) Rules 2020.
A divisional bench comprising IHC Chief Justice Athar Minallah heard a writ petition filed by a citizen Chaudhry Shafiq. The bench has already given the incumbent government, and law and justice and information and technology ministries till March 7 to submit replies in a similar petition that maintains that social media rules violate Article 19 and 19 (a) of the Constitution and terms it an attempt by the government to stifle dissent and free speech.
Backlash
The PTI government’s social media rules garnered criticism from all quarters. The Senate Standing Committee on Information Technology sought clarification from the Ministry of Information Technology for forwarding the Citizens Protection (Against Online Harm) Rules 2020 to the cabinet without taking the panel into confidence.
US top diplomat for South Asia Alice Wells expressed concerns, saying the “new restrictions could be a setback to freedom of expression and development of digital economy”.
“Unfortunate if Pakistan discourages foreign investors & stifles domestic innovation in such a dynamic sector. Encourage discussion w/[with] stakeholders,” said Wells in a tweet from her official handle.
Post-backlash
PM Imran directed IT ministry to take stakeholders on board before implementing the social media rules.
“The social media rules are not aimed at silencing positive criticism and political dissent,” the premier sought to clarify while presiding over a meeting on the matter.