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Pakistan Government Proposes Amendments to PECA 2016 to Regulate Social Media

In a recent development, Prime Minister Shehbaz Sharif has given the green light to a draft aiming to amend the Prevention of Electronic Crimes Act (PECA) 2016. This move comes as part of the federal government’s decision to regulate social media through legislation, according to reliable sources familiar with the matter.


Establishment of Digital Rights Protection Authority Proposed

The proposed PECA Amendment Bill 2024 includes the establishment of a Digital Rights Protection Authority. Sources suggest that this bill will be presented in the Parliament after receiving approval from the cabinet. The recommendation for the proposed amendment bill came from the cabinet’s Legal Reforms Committee. They have suggested the formation of the Digital Rights Protection Authority, which will operate under the jurisdiction of the Ministry of Information Technology.

Sources further reveal that the authority will play a crucial role in advising the government on matters concerning digital rights. It will focus on ensuring responsible internet usage and enforcing regulations. Additionally, the authority aims to collaborate with social media platforms to promote a positive digital ecosystem. It will also be responsible for regulating online content, investigating violations of the new PECA law on social media, and taking necessary actions against violators.

The proposed authority will possess the power to demand information from involved individuals and witnesses. Moreover, it will have the authority to establish rules to enforce laws related to digital rights. The primary objective of the authority is to create a secure and trustworthy digital environment while prioritizing user protection online and safeguarding fundamental rights.


Focus on Privacy Protection and Digital Security

According to officials, the formulation of this bill is primarily aimed at protecting citizens’ privacy from the potential risks associated with social media usage. They emphasize that the proposed amendments have no connection with any particular institutions.

This development follows an earlier initiative by the Ministry of Information Technology, which issued a Statutory Regulatory Order (SRO) to establish the National Cyber Crime Investigation Authority. This move highlights the government’s ongoing efforts to address cyber threats and ensure the safety and security of digital spaces.

The proposed amendments to PECA 2016 signal a significant step towards enhancing regulatory measures in the digital sphere. By establishing the Digital Rights Protection Authority, the government aims to strengthen its oversight of social media platforms and online content.

The authority’s role in advising the government on digital rights issues underscores the importance of ensuring responsible internet usage while protecting users’ privacy and fundamental rights. Collaboration with social media platforms is expected to facilitate constructive engagement and promote a positive digital environment for all users.

Furthermore, the authority’s power to investigate violations of the new PECA law on social media and take necessary actions against violators underscores the government’s commitment to enforcing regulations in the digital realm. Consequently, it ensures accountability and safeguards against misuse of online platforms. This proactive approach reflects the evolving nature of cyber threats and the need for robust mechanisms to address them effectively.

The proposed amendments to PECA 2016 and the establishment of the Digital Rights Protection Authority signify the government’s proactive stance towards regulating social media and safeguarding digital rights. As these initiatives move forward, their impact on the digital landscape and user experiences will be closely monitored.

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