Pakistan recently introduced its internet censorship laws as per which tech giants are liable to take down a wide range of content from their platforms if demanded by the authorities. The stringent censorship demands have forced companies like Facebook, Google, and Twitter to join forces and demand the repealing of laws.
According to Pakistan’s Citizens Protection Rules, social media platforms will have to remove any content deemed objectionable by the authorities within 24 hours. Platforms are also required to introduce tools to prevent live streaming of online content related to terrorism, hate speech, fake news, extremism and inciting content.
Additionally, censorship laws give Pakistan’s government the power to block any social media platform and levy a fine up to $6.9 million if they fail to comply with the laws.
Responding to such harsh rules that could endanger free speech and internet rights, companies including Facebook, Google, and Twitter who are part of Asia Internet Coalition, a trade body have written a letter to Pakistan’s Prime Minister.
In the letter, the companies wrote: “the rules as currently written would make it extremely difficult for AIC Members to make their services available to Pakistani users and businesses.”
The threat to discontinue services in Pakistan is intended to mount pressure on the Pakistani government to revoke the laws.
Failure to do so would mean that 70 million Pakistani people will be bereft of services offered by Facebook, Google, Twitter, and other tech giants.
After witnessing the protest from companies, citizens and free speech advocates, Pakistani officials have said that they will review the censorship laws. They will also try to adopt an “extensive and broad-based consultation process with all relevant segments of civil society and technology companies.”