Islamabad, (Feb 13, 2020): Bytes for All, Pakistan is concerned over the
newly introduced draconian “rules” to regulate social media in Pakistan.
The Rules are an attack on economic rights and civil liberties including
free speech, online associations, peaceful assemblies and right to privacy.
The rules are being imposed arbitrarily in the name of regulating online
platforms and protecting citizens from online harm. It appears that the
intent of the State behind formulating and approving Rules is malicious,
and instead providing protection to the citizens from the dangers of
technologies, they will be yet another attempt to control cyberspace in
These rules will have far reaching implications on small, medium and
large information technology businesses in the country, who heavily rely
on social media marketing, such as online stores, tourism businesses,
and rural economy. In recent years, Pakistan has expanded its IT and ICT
growth that have been contributing significantly in terms of exports and
investments. This will be a huge setback to the economy and also in
contravention to the government’s vision of creating hundreds and
thousands of new jobs.
The Rules talk about the appointment of National Coordinator and the
registration of social media platforms along with opening of offices by
internet companies in Pakistan. We believe they would not serve for any
better, rather than restricting citizens from exercising their civil and
political rights. It is feared that the powers of National Coordinator
would be misused to clampdown on online expression, right to
information, peaceful assemblies and associations. Moreover, it will be
a tool in the hands of the State to breach the privacy of citizens by
acquiring personal and private data. It will further push the vulnerable
communities at the peripheries of the society and isolate them from the
mainstream entailing more risks to their freedoms and lives.
It is a matter of grave concern that the government bypassed the due
democratic process for formulation of these rules. Ignoring civil
society, businesses, academia and other stakeholders is non-democratic
approach of the government and unacceptable.

We demand from the government to immediately de-notify the problematic
rules for social media regulation, and initiate a multi-stakeholder
consultative process. Bytes for All also demands from the government to
drop the idea of investing powers in the position of National
Coordinator, instead constitute a multi-stakeholder experts committee
with adequate parliamentary oversight to make decisions pertaining to
social media regulation.
Feb 13, 2020 By bytesforall