Security czar seeks review of social media laws amid nationwide X disruption

Security czar seeks review of social media laws amid nationwide X disruption

LAHORE: Amid countriwide disruption of the popular social networking platform, X, for more than a month, Interior Minister Mohsin Naqvi has sought review of social media laws to “stop its misuse”.

X, formerly Twitter, remains inaccessible to millions of netizens in Pakistan since its suspension before the February 8 general elections.

“Social media laws should be envisaged,” Naqvi said while speaking to journalists in Lahore on Tuesday, adding” Social media is being misused. Social media regulations have been implemented across the globe.”

The interior minister was of the view that freedom of expression should be separated from propaganda, and smear campaigns against people. “Everyone has right to freedom of speech, however, it should not be misused.”
Responding to the question, Naqvi said that smear campaigns against politicians, judiciary, and other national institutions should be stopped. He advocated implementation of social media laws in the country following patterns of developed countries like the United States (US).

His statement came after Federal Minister for Information and Broadcasting Atta Tarar’s admission that the social networking app was suspended in the country.

Tarar, responding to queries regarding X’s (former Twitter) suspension, said that the platform was already banned when they came to power, whereas, there was no official notification regarding the ban.

Stressing the need for a charter on “do’s and don’ts”, the info minister said that there should be talks between the political parties that which “red lines” should not be crossed on the social media platform.

He expressed his annoyance over allegation against women, abuses, misbehaviour and smear campaign against martyrs’ sacrifices on the social media.

Disruptions continue despite court orders
Besides a complete suspension of internet on the polling day, netizens have been facing sporadic disruptions and hindrances in accessing the social media platform despite different courts’ orders for the resumption and uninterrupted access to the masses, Geo News reported earlier.

In addition to this, human rights activists and civil society organisations had also sought immediate resumption of X in a joint statement expressing profound concern over the increasing instances of internet shutdowns and social media platform blocking on March 13.

Calling out the “arbitrary blocking of platforms”, the rights activists and civil society organisations had launched a campaign #InternetKholo to draw the new incumbent government’s attention towards the matter for restoration of X.

“These actions not only infringe upon the fundamental rights of freedom of expression and access to information but also set a troubling precedent of throttling genuine political discourse including plurality of voices in the country,” the statement had read.

The statement had also criticised Pakistan Telecommunication Authority (PTA) for continuous silence and failure to furnish any reasons for its actions and exceeded its mandate to block an entire internet platform.