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PTA has begun licensing social media companies

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The Pakistan Telecommunications Authority (PTA) has begun the process of licensing social media firms under the ‘Removal and Blocking of Unlawful Online Content (Procedure, Oversight, and Safeguards) Rules, 2021.’

The guidelines were developed by the Ministry of Information Technology and Telecommunications in accordance with Section 37 of the Prevention of Electronic Crimes Act of 2016.

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 The federal government accepted the regulations set by the PTA, according to the ministry’s announcement in exercise of powers provided by sub-section (2) of section 37 of the Prevention of Electronic Crimes Act, 2016, (XL of 2016).

A social media company with 500,000 subscribers needs separate registration for each application/service. The form must be filed by e-mail SM [email protected] as well as postal address. If necessary, the PTA may seek more information. In the event of a change, the Social Media Company must promptly contact the Authorized Compliance Officer and Grievance Officer, according to the PTA.

These laws oblige social media firms to remove or limit access to online information deemed required in the interests of Islam’s honour, security, public order, decency and morality, and Pakistan’s integrity or defence. Furthermore, the regulations provide safeguards, processes, and methods for the Authority to use in exercising its powers under the Act to remove or limit access to unlawful online content via any information system.

The revised regulations have reduced the previous criterion of establishing an office in Pakistan within six months of the rules coming into force and said that under the Authority’s instruction, open an office in Pakistan as and when feasibly possible.

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The repealed regulations declared that “the Removal and Blocking of Unlawful Online Content (Procedure, Oversight, and Safeguards), Rules 2020,” henceforth referred to as the repealed rules, are thus abolished.

The new restrictions will only apply to licensees that offer social media or social network services. According to the guidelines, the authority shall not limit, interrupt, or distribute any online content unless it thinks it essential for the reasons specified in Section 37(1) of the Act, subject to due process of law.

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