PPP slams govt’s ‘digital dictatorship’

Islamabad: The Pakistan People’s Party (PPP) Friday strongly condemns what it calls digital dictatorship which the federal government “aims to impose through the recent Rules” that have been announced.

PPP leader Nafisa Shah said the Removal and Blocking of Unlawful Content (Procedure, Oversight and Safeguards) Rules, 2020 are unconstitutional, regressive, malafide and violate Articles 19 and 19A of the Constitution of Pakistan.

Besides these are hardly rules, in their content and implication, they seem to be a separate law which should have been referred to the Parliament, she said.

Through these draconian provisions the government claims for itself indiscriminate power to survey and monitor digital content and restrict and block individuals and social media companies that in its view do not comply with the Rules, she said.

Nafisa Shah said the Rules are therefore nothing but an instrument for the fascist government to muzzle the press, intimidate citizens and silence opposition and are therefore unacceptable..

“It is ironic that the PTI government whose own support came on the back of social media, and which has set new records of trolling and abusive content in the country is now set on blocking social media platforms and content, making a mockery of both the PTI goal of a ‘digital Pakistan’ and the Prime Ministers claim of “I am democracy”. The most egregious part is that the new provisions allow blocking of dissemination of any information which criticizes government and holders of public office. This is censorship at its worst. Whistleblowers. journalists, opposition and even ordinary citizens now can be censored when sharing views critical of government,” she said.

The Rules further allow mass surveillance as they empower authorities to store all internet data of citizens so that they can access them without going through a legal process again violating the constitutional guarantees of privacy of citizens. These Rules will further alienate digital media companies who will be forced to shut down.

The PPP demands government to immediately withdraw these unlawful and unconstitutional Rules and refer the matter of social media and internet regulation to the parliament, Nafisa Shah said.