Pakistan has banned social media about 8 times in its history, and has a long and dark history of restrictions on various forms of media, and “continues to impose arbitrary legal and regulatory restrictions on online speech and content, order prohibitions, suspensions and warnings against media applications ‘’according to reports.
However, he now plans to introduce new digital media rules that may be stricter than any previous attempts to suppress or curb freedom of speech on social media. The government has proposed the establishment of the Pakistani Media Development Bureau (PMDA), which will be solely responsible for overseeing print, broadcast, and digital media.
A government proposal explained: “This will be a new statutory agency designed to regulate Pakistan’s efforts in metadata, digital and social media and Film, electronic, print, and digital media in the age of internet-based content and advertising. ‘’
PMDA will have the right to register a digital media platform, monitor and analyze it, and check the revenue generated through online advertising. ‘’Unlicensed and unregulated’’ online advertising means there is a possibility of “income loss and tax evasion “has been pointed out in the proposal.
The authorities will issue guidelines for Internet-based advertising and the revenue generated from it. In addition, permission must be obtained from PMDA to establish a digital media platform, whether it is a YouTube channel for news/video blogs, or a Facebook news page, or a website for news reporting in the future if the authorities take over the government’s control of digital media to reach new heights.
The famous reporter Muhammad Malick lamented in his talk show: “As an ordinary person or reporter, What is the need for me to obtain permission from the government to start a video blog? The license means that it will also be renewed, so my general behavior will be reviewed and the license will only be re-obtained if I am a good boy.”
The proposal to establish a media monitoring agency was widely rejected by journalists, activists, and opposition groups, who called it “unconstitutional and strict laws”.
Marriyum Aurangzeb, Information Secretary of PML-N, described PMDA as a repressive and punitive tool to suppress the constitutional freedom of expression of print media, electronic media, and online citizen news.”
PPP Senator Sherry Rehman called the PMDA’s proposed decree a “media martial law.” Digital rights advocate Nighat Dad also opposed the proposed authorization in a talk show.