CALIFORNIA: Global internet companies like Facebook, Google and Twitter have threatened Pakistan to face severe penalties — including the potential shutdown of their services.
Through a group called the Asia Internet Coalition, they wrote a scathing letter to Pakistan’s prime minister, Imran Khan. In it, the companies warned that “the rules as currently written would make it extremely difficult for AIC Members to make their services available to Pakistani users and businesses.”
Their public rebellion, combined with pressure and lawsuits from local civil libertarians, forced the government to retreat. The law remains on the books, but Pakistani officials pledged this week to review the regulations and undertake an “extensive and broad-based consultation process with all relevant segments of civil society and technology companies.”
“Because Pakistan does not have any law of data protection, international internet firms are reluctant to comply with the rules,” said Usama Khilji, director of Bolo Bhi, an internet rights organization based in Islamabad, the country’s capital.
The standoff over Pakistan’s digital censorship law, which would give regulators the power to demand the takedown of a wide range of content, is the latest skirmish in an escalating global battle.
Facebook, Google and other big tech companies, which have long made their own rules about what is allowed on their services, are increasingly tangling with national governments seeking to curtail internet content that they consider harmful, distasteful or simply a threat to their power.