Pakistan has & # 39; new rules & # 39; for Facebook, Twitter and other social media companies – Latest news

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<pre><pre>Pakistan has & # 39; new rules & # 39; for Facebook, Twitter and other social media companies - Latest news
ISLAMABAD: The Pakistani government approved new rules to regulate cyberspace that opponents say could be used to suppress dissent and freedom of expression.

According to the regulations that were approved by the cabinet at the end of last month but were not made public immediately, social media companies will be required to help law enforcement agencies access the data and remove the content in line that is considered illegal.

Companies that do not comply with the rules run the risk of being blocked online, according to a copy of the regulations seen by Reuters.

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The approval of the new rules follows accusations by opposition parties that Prime Minister Imran Khan's government has tried to intimidate and silence their opponents and accusations of media censorship. Pakistan's army has also faced accusations of taking strong measures against the media and freedom of expression.

But Shoaib Ahmad Siddiqi, the chief official of the information technology ministry that created the regulations, said the new rules would help "identify and eliminate unwanted and defamatory online content."

"We needed to do it to maintain the integrity, decency and respect of people and the sanctity of institutions," he said.

The authors describe the new rules in social networks to avoid the live transmission of online content related to "terrorism, extremism, hate speech, defamation, false news, incitement to violence and national security."

Social media companies will be required to respond within 24 hours to a request to remove "illegal,quot; material, or six hours in an emergency. They will have three months to register with the authorities in Pakistan, and they must have a physical presence in Pakistan.

When required, companies must provide subscriber information, traffic data, content data and any other information or data sought, stipulate the regulations.

The rules also state that interpretations of the regulations by the authorities in Pakistan "will prevail over any community norm or rule or community guidelines or policies or any other instrument devised by a social media company."

"Overreach,quot;

Nighat Dad, who runs the Nonprofit Digital Rights Foundation in Pakistan, says the new rules will give the authorities unwavering powers to stifle social networks.

"The worrying part to me is that the definition of extremism, religion or culture is very broad and ambiguous, and that means they have this unlimited power to call any illegal or extremist or anti-state content online," he told Reuters.

"I fear that this will be used against dissent, freedom of expression and for political purposes."

Farieha Aziz, founder of Bolo Bhi, a group that defends digital rights, also expressed concern.

"This is the kind of overreach that worried us," he said. "They are trying to go beyond the scope of the law, trying to go beyond what the law allows them to do."

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