Freedom of speech is one of the cornerstones of good governance. It gives people the right to advocate or condemn issues related to any field of life. Freedom of speech also ensures that the government and its organs don’t misuse their authority. However, if that freedom of speech exceeds its limit it takes the shape of hate speech. In contemporary times, people have resorted to social media to exercise their right to freedom of speech. Some used it in constructive ways however, others used the platform to defame, criticize, and spread false information among the masses. The negative side of freedom of speech caused people their mental health and infringed upon the peace of the country, on individual as well as state level. Due to this Pakistan’s government has introduced social media regulation laws to keep the social media platforms in check.
To curb the defamation of institutions and people on social media, the government has introduced an ordinance that would put an end to the cases of defamation. Previously, this offense was bailable however, as per the new ordinance this offense will be non-bailable. Moreover, the imprisonment years have increased from two years to five years. Ab kisi kay baray mein ghalat khabar phelanay sei pehle apnay aglay paanch saalo kay baaray mein soch lena hai. The current government has worked its way to put checks and balances on social media to curb the issues of false news and defamation. Governments’ social media regulation laws will keep social media in check.
Some of these efforts were:
- Citizens Protection (Against Online Harm) Rules-2020
- Removal and Blocking of Unlawful Online Content (Procedure, Oversight, and Safeguards) Rules-2020.
As per the ordinance, the definition of ‘person’ includes any group of people, company, institution, association, organization, authority, and a government-established entity under any law or otherwise. The government’s social media regulation laws are for everyone, no one is exempted under the new ordinance.
Furthermore, a time limit is set for the courts to pass judgment on the related cases.“The trail shall be concluded expeditiously, but preferably not later than six months of taking cognizance of the case.” Although this decision has been condemned and strongly opposed by many journalists, politicians, and digital rights groups. The need for this particular ordinance was explained by Barrister Farogh Naseem, the Federal Law Minister. According to Barrister Farogh Naseem, this will hold everyone accountable for spreading false news. He further said, “whatever happened in the past is gone, now we are moving in the right direction.”
The government is not restricting your freedom of speech rather it is putting in place laws that will restrain people from spreading false information or the news that may tarnish someone’s image. The government’s social media regulation laws will lead to a society where freedom of speech is promoted and false news problems are eradicated.