The Ministry of Information Technology and Telecommunication on Thursday notified the amended social media rules that stakeholders and digital rights activists have strongly criticised, reports Javed Hussain for Dawn.

The rules titled the “Removal and Blocking of Unlawful Online Content (Procedure, Oversight, and Safeguards) Rules, 2021”, have been framed under the Prevention of Electronic Crimes Act (Peca), 2016.

The rules are as follows:


Social media companies will have to register with Pakistan Telecommunication Authority (PTA) within three months.

Social media outlets will be required to establish an office in Pakistan “as and when feasible” — instead of nine months as required previously.

PTA will give 48 hours, instead of 24 hours previously, to a social media company for removing or blocking access to online content.

Meanwhile, Prime Minister (PM) Imran Khan recently formed the National Social Media Coordination Working Group (NSMCWG).

The premier constituted NSMCWG to work on relevant policies related to Social Media, provide input to the government of Pakistan on social media-related issues, and engage with international social media companies in a coherent and coordinated manner.

Dr Arslan Khalid, focal person to PM on Digital Media, who is also the spokesperson of NSMCWG, said, “Social media is one subject which is being dealt with by many ministries and departments. It was observed that there was weak coordination between the government stakeholders resulting in delays and confusion over some policy matters. This working group will bring all the relevant stakeholders on one platform which will help in better result-oriented engagement with the social media companies.”

The Working Group consists of Ministry of Information &Technology as the Lead ministry, Ministry of Information & Broadcasting, Ministry of Law & Justice, Ministry of Foreign Affairs, Ministry of Commerce, Prime Minister’s Focal Person on Digital Media (Spokesperson), Pakistan Telecommunication Authority and Digital Media Wing as permanent members while Chair of NSMWG can include any other ministry/department or Think Tank as a Co-opted member as and when required.