Google, Twitter and Facebook threaten to leave Pakistan over new content rules

Global tech giants Google, Facebook, and Twitter, among others, have joined in and are threatening to leave Pakistan over the country’s latest censorship laws. The government of Prime Minister Imran Khan has given greater powers to Pakistani media regulators.

Under the new regulations, social media companies or Internet service providers face a fine of up to $ 3.14 million for failing to curb the sharing of content that is deemed defamatory of Islam, promoting terrorism, hate speech, pornography or any content that is considered to endanger national citizens. security.

The Asia Internet Coalition (AIC), a grouping of major tech giants such as Facebook, Twitter, Apple, Amazon, Google, LinkedIn, SAP, Yahoo, Airbnb, booking.com. The AIC threatened to withdraw after Islamabad gave greater powers to government media regulators. Critics say the move was aimed at restricting free speech in the conservative Islamic nation.

The coalition said it was “alarmed by the scope of Pakistan’s new law targeting internet companies, as well as the government’s opaque process by which these rules were developed.” Previously, Pakistani Prime Minister Imran Khan gave the Pakistan Telecommunications Authority the power to remove and block digital content that “damages, intimidates or excites discontent towards the government” or otherwise damages the “integrity, security and defense of Pakistan “.

Social media companies must provide Pakistan’s designated investigative agency with “any information or data in decrypted, readable and understandable format,” according to Pakistan’s DAWN newspaper Pakistan also wants social media companies to have their offices in the country .

The coalition said that “the draconian data localization requirements will damage people’s ability to access a free and open Internet and will shut down Pakistan’s digital economy from the rest of the world.” It said the new rules will make it difficult for its members to “make their services available to Pakistani users and businesses.”

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