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Citizens Protection (Against Online Harm) Rules, 2020

Update (March 2020): The Rules remain on the statute books however the Pakistani authorities have now pledged to review the regulations and undertake an ‘extensive and broad-based consultation process with civil society and technology companies’. This was in response to a letter from the Asia Internet Coalition addressed to the Prime Minister in which tech-companies threatened to pull out completely from Pakistan if the Rules were enforced. Content takedown: The Rules require social media intermediaries to remove, suspend or disable access to illegal online content within 24 hours on when it receives such communication from the Pakistan Telecommunication Authority (PTA). The decision of whether the content is impermissible under the law will be taken by the PTA or the National Coordinator (appointment by the Minister...
Court Decision

Salman Shahid v. Federation of Pakistan

Islamabad High Court
In February 2017, the petitioner filed a petition in the Islamabad High Court praying that the Court take action into rampant blasphemy online by bloggers. On February 27, 2017, the Islamabad High Court admitted the petition and directed authorities to ‘block social media pages posting blasphemous and objectionable content’. In a subsequent hearing, the Court ordered authorities to place the names of the alleged blasphemers on the Exit Control List, initiate criminal cases against them, and directed the Pakistan Telecommunication Authority (PTA) to set up teams to monitor and scrutinise social media for blasphemous material. Finally, on August 11, 2017, the Court ordered a complete ban on Facebook if it did not conform to Pakistani laws in the future and ordered the PTA to identify organisations involved in circulating...

Prevention of Electronic Crimes Act (PECA), 2016

Safe Harbour Provision: The Act stipulates that no service providers would be longer liable for civil or criminal violations committed by their users, unless there is evidence that they had specific knowledge or made a wilful attempt to participate in those offences. Section 35 also states that no service provider is under an obligation to proactively monitor the content hosted/cached/transmitted or made available by such intermediary. Vague and Overbroad takedown provisions: The Act empowers the Pakistan Telecommunication Authority (PTA) to remove or block information through any information system if it considers it ‘necessary in the interest of the glory of Islam or the integrity, security or defence of Pakistan or any part thereof, public order, decency or morality, or in relation to contempt of court’. This...