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Thursday May 23, 2024

Naqvi seeks review of social media laws amid ‘X’ disruption

X, formerly Twitter, remains inaccessible to millions of netizens in Pakistan since its suspension before the February 8 general elections

By News Desk
March 20, 2024
A woman holds a smartphone displaying the logo of the social network X. — AFP/File
A woman holds a smartphone displaying the logo of the social network X. — AFP/File

LAHORE/KARACHI: Amid the countrywide disruption of social networking platform ‘X’ for more than a month, Interior Minister Mohsin Naqvi has sought a review of social media laws to “stop its misuse”.

X, formerly Twitter, remains inaccessible to millions of netizens in Pakistan since its suspension before the February 8 general elections. “Social media laws should be envisaged,” Naqvi said while talking to journalists in Lahore on Tuesday, adding, “Social media is being misused. Social media regulations have been implemented across the globe,” reported Geo News.

The interior minister was of the view that freedom of expression should be separated from propaganda and smear campaigns against people. “Everyone has right to freedom of speech, however, it should not be misused.”

Responding to a question, Naqvi said that smear campaigns against politicians, judiciary and other national institutions should be stopped. He advocated implementation of social media laws in the country following patterns of developed countries like the United States.

His statement came after Federal Minister for Information and Broadcasting Atta Tarar’s admission that the social networking app was suspended in the country.

Tarar, responding to queries regarding X’s suspension, said that the platform was already banned when they came to power but there was no official notification regarding the ban.

Stressing the need for a charter on “do’s and don’ts”, the info minister said that there should be talks between the political parties about “red lines” which should not be crossed on the social media platform. He expressed his annoyance over allegations against women, abuses, misbehaviour and smear campaign against martyrs’ sacrifices on the social media.

Besides a complete suspension of internet on the polling day, netizens have been facing sporadic disruptions and hindrances in accessing the social media platform despite different courts’ orders for the resumption and uninterrupted access to masses.

Meanwhile, Pakistan Telecommunication Authority (PTA) Chairman Major General (retd) Hafeezur Rehman has said he will raise the issue of closure of social media platform ‘X’ with the Interior Ministry. In a telephonic conversation with a private channel, he said: “Either the matter should be cleared or someone should take responsibility for it. The closure of social media forums is always directed by the Interior Ministry.” When asked whether any instruction was issued on shutting down ‘X’ in the country, the PTA chairman stated that there is just confusion for now. “I have told my staff that my internet is working even though I do not have a VPN,” he said, referring to a virtual private network.