PASHA is cared about the newly announced Citizens Protection Rules about social media as fear will adversely affect IT sector growth in Pakistan and its fledgling e-commerce industry.
At a time when the government is making serious efforts to enhance its global image, adopt technology across its functions and getting advantage from the unmatched opportunity in global IT value chain, this law could hurt the government’s aspirations to generate jobs, reduce corruption and alleviate poverty.
Pakistan is amongst the youngest countries with in the world with 29% population between 15 and 29 years of age where smartphone and social media usage is high and it continues to rise. Our IT and IT exports is rising yearly at 15% CAGR and the exports during the first half of the current fiscal year has increased by 24.71%.
This law has been drafted without the engagement and consultation of the IT industry unlike the other policy changes, this and other stakeholders and this might cause slowdown in our upward trajectory of IT sector growth.
PASHA believes that there are better and more civil and democratic ways to help law enforcement in the age of digital and social media. Any new laws or rules should not bypass fundamental human rights as per the constitution of Pakistan and must ensure due legal and civil discourse.
As the voice of the industry, PASHA also has serious reservations about fixing a new Office of the National Coordinator which, as per the new rules, shall be the only authority in determining the circumstances of emergency which may result in skewed person dependent decisions impacting personal and commercial aspects of millions of online Pakistani users.
We strongly encourage the government to carry consultations with domestic and international industry stakeholders including civil society groups to rationalize these rules. Failing to perform so, there is a high risk of Pakistan becoming a global outlier, leading to needless isolation and deprivation of Pakistani businesses of all sizes from the worldwide digital economy.