Fawad defends PTI social media team, condemns PPP for ‘campaigning’ against it

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ISLAMABAD : Federal Minister for Science and Technology Fawad Chaudhry condemned defended PTI’s social media team, accusing the rival PPP of targeting it in a ‘campaign’.

The minister took to Twitter on Tuesday to defend the ruling party’s social media team, praising them for doing ‘great’ work from the Pulwama to the coronavirus crises.

“From Pulwama to COVID-19, PTI’s social media team has played a great role in every crisis so far. I condemn PPP’s campaign against these young people,” he said.

The minister added that when he had suggested regulating social media and bringing in PMRA, “the same group” was against the move.

Cabinet approves law requiring social media companies to open offices in Pakistan

In February this year, the federal cabinet had approved a new set of rules to regulate social media, requiring companies such as Facebook, Twitter, YouTube, and even TikTok to register themselves and open offices in Pakistan.

The rules and regulations had been included in the Prevention of Electronic Crimes Act, 2016 with senior officials in the Ministry of Information Technology confirming to Geo News that the cabinet had given the green light to the legal document.

Further, Federal Secretary IT & Telecommunication Shoaib Siddiqui had confirmed to Geo News that after the Cabinet’s approval, the rules and regulations need not be presented in the Parliament for approval.

The law required digital media companies to appoint a representative in Pakistan to deal with a national coordination authority, which would be responsible to regulate content on social media platforms.

It further required the companies to set up data servers in Pakistan within a year and makes it compulsory for them to provide data of accounts found guilty of various crimes — including targeting state institutions, spreading fake news and hate speech, engaging in harassment, issuing statements that harm national security or uploading blasphemous content — to intelligence and law enforcement agencies (LEAs).

Later, the then Special Assistant to the Prime Minister on Information and Broadcasting Dr Firdous Ashiq Awan had confirmed that the government would form an authority to regulate social media websites, saying that these platforms cannot be left “completely unregulated”.