Islamabad HC questions government's new social media rules

Islamabad, Pakistan Published: Dec 05, 2020, 07:28 PM(IST)

File photo of Islamabad High Court. Photograph:( AFP )

Story highlights

'Criticism is very important for democracy,' IHC Chief Justice Athar Minallah slammed Imran Khan's government over new social media regulations

The Islamabad High Court (IHC) has raised questions over the new social media rules imposed by the Pakistan government, the media reported on Saturday.

The court on Friday heard a petition filed by the Pakistan Bar Council (PBC) against the recently approved regulations titled 'Removal and Blocking of Unlawful Online Content (Procedure, Oversight and Safeguards) Rules 2020', The Express Tribune reported.

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The PBC contended that the rules violated rights guaranteed by the Constitution.

IHC Chief Justice Athar Minallah expressed his displeasure, saying that if the new rules discouraged criticism, it would "discourage accountability".

"Criticism is very important for democracy," he said, adding that the Pakistan Telecommunication Authority (PTA) should encourage it instead.

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The IHC later issued directions to the PTA to take into account the objections raised by PBC and satisfy the court at the next hearing on December 18.

The government approved the social media rules last month despite criticism from human rights activists and organisations.

One of the new rules requires a social media company` to remove, suspend or disable access to any online content within 24 hours, and in emergency situations, within six hours, after being intimated by the authority.

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