Citizens Protection (Against Online Harm) Rules 2020 suspended when more than 100 rights organisations and individuals boycott consultation with government, DAWN reported.
The right groups in a statement said that the government had refused to elaborate on the legal status of the rules, so “any consultation is merely token to deflect criticism and not a genuine exercise to seek input.”
According to the report, when Pakistan Telecommunication Authority (PTA) Chairman Amir Azeem Bajwa was approached to seek clarification, he said: “The rules are expected to be improved/amended suitably at the end of the consultation process. Implementation of [existing] rules has been suspended.”
This Monday, the PTA chairman-led committee that the IT minister formed following the premier’s instruction from consultation with stakeholders. Additional Secretary of IT Eazaz Aslam Dar, Digital Pakistan head Tania Aidrus and the focal person on digital media Dr Arslan Khalid are committee members.
On the contrary, the Federal Minister for human rights Dr shireen Mazari and barrister Ali Zafar are also expected to be a part of the process.
According to the press release of PTA, the committee decides to initiate an open consultation with all stakeholders including civil society, human and digital rights groups.
PTA further added that a questionnaire seeking input from all stakeholders shall be posted on its official website.
PM’s focal person on digital media Arslan Khalid said all proceedings would be “inclusive” and done in a “transparent” manner. “The rules have not been implemented. Prime Minister Imran Khan has clearly instructed for robust and broad-based consultations before any rules can be put into place,” he told Dawn.