The Pakistan Telecommunication Authority (PTA) has started the registration of social media companies under the Removal and Blocking of Unlawful Online Content (Procedure, Oversight and Safeguards) Rules, 2021. The registration of social media companies involves both local and international firms.
Registration of social media companies under new social media rules
Under the new rules about the registration of social media, Twitter, Facebook, TikTok, or any other social media company having more than 500,000 subscribers will have to fill a registration form and send it to PTA either via email or post. The companies need to fill these requirements in the registration form:
- Company name
- Type of service/application
- Number of users in Pakistan (at the time of registration)
- Country of origin
- Company authorization letter (to be attached with this form)
- Authorized grievance officer details.
Aminul Haque, the IT minister, said that the new rules will give Pakistanis full freedom of expression under Article 19 of the Constitution. As per the rules, significant social media companies or service providers would be degraded, blocked, or imposed with a penalty of up to Rs. 500 million, if it fails to remove or block access to the online content or to comply with the directions. Last month, the Ministry of Information and Technology amended the new social media rules, which include:
- The social media companies will have to register with the Pakistan Telecommunication Authority (PTA) within three months as well as establish their offices in the country as and when feasible.
- The service provider, social media company and significant social media company will not knowingly host, display, upload, publish, transmit, update or share any online content in violation of local laws.
- The PTA can give 48 hours to the “service provider, social media company, significant social media company or user”, to comply with its directions for removal or blocking access to online content.
The new rules to safeguard the interests of the state
The new rules bind the social media companies to remove or block access to online content, which is considered necessary in the interest of the glory of Islam, security, public order, decency and morality, and integrity or defence of Pakistan. Further, the rules provide for safeguards, processes and mechanisms for the exercise of powers by the authority under the Act for removal of or blocking access to unlawful online content through any information system.
The new rules shall apply only to those firms, which provide social media or social network services. It also affirms that the authority shall not restrict, disrupt flow or dissemination any online content unless it considers it necessary for the reasons as prescribed in Section 37(1) of the Act subject to due process of law.
Source: Business Recorder