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Govt Plans To Introduce Bill To Curb Digital Freedom In Pakistan

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The government has decided to introduce a bill to regulate social media channels and websites. The proposed bill is called ‘Citizens Protection Against Online Harm Rules’ and intends to curb among other things, ‘blasphemous content’ from social media.

According to reports, the federal cabinet has already approved the bill.

Under the bill, a National Coordinator (NC) would be appointed who would be responsible for coordination, advising the federal and provincial governments, and engaging with social media companies. He will also have the authority to summon focal persons of any company to discuss the operation of their businesses.

According to the bill, digital media channels will also be required to register with Pakistan Telecom Authority (PTA) within 3 months.

The Ministry of Information and Telecommunications will have an authority to direct any digital media channel to remove, suspend or disable access to ‘unlawful’ content within 24 hours.

Digital media rights activists and analysts have termed the proposed bill ‘draconian’ saying that it is meant to curb criticism of the state on online platforms.

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