Social Media Laws in PakistanSocial Media Lawyer in Pakistan

Social Media Laws in Pakistan

The government of Pakistan has enforced a set of rules to control social media platforms operating in the territory of Pakistan which makes it obligatory for the social media companies to open their permanent offices in Pakistan and to follow all the applicable laws.
All the Social Media Companies must have to ensure the protection of the data of Pakistani citizens and also ensure the compliance with other Pakistani laws.

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The other aspect of the said rules requires the companies to establish an online grievance redressal mechanism which shall handle the complaints of the consumers and the company is required to redress the grievance within seven working days. It is also obligatory for the company to keep the name of the complainant confidential.
The company is also required to deploy mechanisms to ensure immediate blocking of live streaming any online content related to terrorism, hate speech, pornographic, incitement to violence and detrimental to national security on receiving intimation from the Pakistan Telecommunication Authority.
It is to be noted that not only the Social Media Companies but also the Service Providers are responsible to deploy mechanisms to ensure immediate blocking of livestreaming of content relating to terrorism, hate speech, pornography, and anti-national security matter on receiving intimation from the PTA.

Social media companies that violate the rules would face huge fines amounting to Rs Five Hundred Million.
Under the rules, the social media company shall provide the information or data to the law enforcement agencies for investigation purposes.

A social media company that has a minimum a half of million subscribers from Pakistan, shall:
(a) register itself with the Authority
(b) establish an office in Pakistan
(c) appoint an authorized compliance officer based in Pakistan for ensuring compliance with the provisions laws and directions of the Authority
(d) appoint a dedicated grievance officer based in Pakistan for the redressal of grievances received by him against online content who shall expeditiously redress the complaints not later than seven days from receipt of the complaint.
(e) comply with the user data privacy and data localization in accordance with applicable laws.
(f) deploy Artificial Intelligence AI-based content moderation systems and content moderators well versed with the local laws.

If a social media company fails to remove or block access to online content or to comply with the directions issued by the Pakistan Telecommunication Authority within the specified time, the Authority may initiate action as per following procedure:

(i) serve a written notice requiring the service provider, social media company or significant social media company to remedy the contravention and give a written explanation within 48 hours to the satisfaction of the Authority for non-compliance with directions of the Authority.
(ii) where the service provider, social media company or significant social media company fails to respond to the notice or satisfy the Authority in respect of the alleged contravention,

The Authority may after affording an opportunity of hearing and by order in writing take any of the following actions:

(a) degrade the services of such service provider or social media company or significant social media company for such period of time as deemed appropriate by the Authority; or
(b) block or issue directions for blocking of the entire Online Information System,
or
(c) impose a penalty up to Rs 500 million.

In case of emergency, the Authority can direct the Service Provider or Social Media Company or User to remove or block access to an online content within 12 hours instead of 48 hours from the time of receiving the directives. However, the PTA will have to specify reasons for the “emergency” in writing.

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