Global internet companies such as Facebook, Google, Twitter and others have joined forces and threatened to leave Pakistan after the South Asian nation gave general powers to local regulators to censor digital content.
Earlier this week, Pakistani Prime Minister Imran Khan gave the Pakistan Telecommunications Authority the power to remove and block digital content that "harms, intimidates or incites resentment" of the government or otherwise harms "integrity". security and defense of Pakistan ".
Through a group called the Asia Internet Coalition (AIC), technology companies said they were "concerned" about the scope of Pakistan's new law targeting Internet companies. In addition to Facebook, Google and Twitter, AIC represents Apple, Amazon, LinkedIn, SAP, Expedia Group, Yahoo, Airbnb, Grab, Rakuten, Booking.com, Line and Cloudflare.
If the "something reminds you" story is because it is not the first time these technology companies have publicly expressed concerns about the new law, which was proposed in February this year.
After the Pakistani government made the proposal in February 2020, the group had threatened to leave, with the result that the Government of Pakistan retreated and promised an extensive and extensive process of consultation with civil society and technology companies.
As the AIC stated on Thursday, this consultation never took place, and reiterated that its members will not be able to operate in the country under current law.
"The draconian data detection requirements will undermine people's ability to access a free and open internet and shut down Pakistan's digital economy from the rest of the world. "It is shocking to see the PTA's powers expand, allowing social media companies to violate established human rights rules on privacy and freedom of expression," the group said in a statement.
He continued: "The rules would make it extremely difficult for AIC members to make their services available to Pakistani users and businesses. "If Pakistan wants to be an attractive destination for technology investment and achieve the goal of digital transformation, we call on the government to work with industry on practical, clear rules that protect the benefits of the Internet and keep people safe."
Under the new law, technology companies that do not remove or exclude illegal content from their platforms within 24 hours of notification by the Pakistani authorities also face a fine of up to $ 3,14 million. And like its neighbor, India, which has also proposed a similar regulation with little or no reaction, Pakistan also requires these companies to have local offices in the country.
The new rules come as Pakistan has scrapped what it considers inappropriate Internet content in recent months. Earlier this year, it banned the popular PUBG Mobile mobile game and temporarily blocked TikTok last month.
Countries such as Pakistan and India rank high on the scale of global use for technology companies. India, which has proposed several protectionist laws in recent years, has largely escaped any major protests from global technology companies because of its size. India is the largest market for Google and Facebook users. Pakistan on the other hand has about 75 million internet users.