Removal and Blocking of Unlawful Online Content
FOE Link or motive by PPFConfirmed
Case Update Status
The Ministry of Information Technology implemented the rules titled, “Removal and Blocking of Unlawful Online Content Rules 2020,” have been framed under the Prevention of Electronic Crimes Act 2016 (PECA). The law is still applicable.
Summary of Case
On 16 Nov, 2020 The Ministry of Information Technology drafted new social media rules for Removal and Blocking of Unlawful Online Content (Procedure, Oversight and Safeguard) Rules 2020.
On Nov 18, 2020 ministry notified social media rules that all other stakeholders, including internet service providers as well as digital rights activists, have rejected, terming them draconian and violation of cyber laws of the country.
The rules titled, “Removal and Blocking of Unlawful Online Content (Procedure, Oversight and Safeguards) Rules 2020,” have been framed under the Prevention of Electronic Crimes Act 2016 (PECA). The RBUOC rules have placed all the internet service providers (ISPs) on a par with social media companies and all the requirements of the social media platforms have been applied to the ISPs as well.
While there are several clauses that were the need of time as many social media platforms were ignoring the norms of society, the service providers have expressed concerns over the stringent requirements in the rules. The Internet Service Providers of Pakistan (ISPAK) has rejected the new rules and the association is likely to move the court of law against the new social media rules.
Digital rights activists have also expressed dissatisfaction over the RBUOC rules, claiming that the government has ignored all the concerns of stakeholders except for deleting the clause regarding establishment of the office of National Coordinator.
The rules have also made it obligatory for the social media platforms with more 500,000 users in Pakistan or in the list of ISPs SMCs with the Pakistan Telecommunication Authority to register with the PTA within nine months. These companies have to establish a permanent registered office, with a physical address preferably in Islamabad, within nine months.
A senior PTA official said that those clauses were essential as the social media platforms had no presence in the country, despite the fact that they were earning from here and paying significant amount to vloggers. The RBUOC rules state that social media platforms have to appoint a focal person in Pakistan to coordinate with authorities for compliance of the law of the land. The rules prohibit live-streaming through for the ISPs and the SMCs by deploying online mechanism, related to terrorism, extremism, hate speech, pornographic, incitement to violence and detrimental to national security.
The ISPs and the SMCs could be fined up to Rs500 million for failing to abide with the directives of the PTA, while appeal against the decision can be filed in high court within 30 days of the PTA’s order.
Complaint against online content can be filed at the PTA by any aggrieved individual, federal, provincial or local government department, any state owned company, law enforcement or intelligence agency.
However, it was mandatory that the PTA would keep the online content and the identity of the complainant confidential as sharing of this information could lead to the spread of the content and the complainant could face harassments from the aggrieved parties.
The rules have also indicated that Data Protection Law is likely to be promulgated in Pakistan in near future and the ISPs as well as the SMCs will have to establish database servers in the country once the law is enacted.
Despite of criticism from all sectors on October 21st, 2020 the Federal Government had issued a notice for the notification of Rules.
Category of Incident
ICCS Divisions: 0803-Acts related to freedom of expression or control of expression
ICCS Group: 08039-Other acts related to freedom of expression or control of expression
ICCS Class: N/A
ICCS Crime: Acts related to freedom of expression or control of expression
Date of incident
Name of affected person
Other affected persons
No other person affected
Name of affected organization
No organization affected as it is related to Social Media Laws
Other affected organizations
No organization affected
Ministry of Information Technology
Age of victim
Amount of compensation announced by government: N/A
Date of compensation announcement by government: N/A
Date of compensation paid by government: N/A
Amount of compensation announced by others: N/A
Date of compensation announced by others: N/A
Date compensation paid by others: N/A
Was FIR registered ?: No
Was case investigated ?: N/A
Court where case was presented: N/A
Name of prosecuting lawyer: N/A
Date of first court hearing:
Date of last court hearing:
Status of court case: N/A
Journalist Union Status
Media Source Status
Colleague of victim
Press Club Status
Press club 1: N/A
Press club 2:
Press club 3: