The Asia Internet Coalition (AIC), an industry association that addresses internet policy issues in the Asia and Pacific Region – has reached out to Prime Minister Imran Khan to alert him how the new laws restrict social media, the media reported on Saturday.
International companies including Facebook, Google, Twitter, Amazon, LinkedIn, Yahoo and Apple are among the members of the AIC.
“The rules as currently written would make it extremely difficult for AIC Members to make their services available to Pakistani users and businesses," AIC wrote in its letter addressed to Prime Minister Khan.
The letter has also reportedly highlighted that the AIC is not against social media monitoring, but they do have other concerns.
“We acknowledge that Pakistan already has an extensive legislative framework governing online content. However, these rules fail to address crucial issues such as internationally recognized rights to individual expression and privacy," the media quoted AIC’s letter to the Pakistan Prime Minister as saying.
As of now, Pakistan’s new Citizenship Protection Rules have triggered global companies to re-consider the stringent regulatory requirements in the country and choose if they were still willing to keep operating there.
As part of the new laws, Pakistan has declared it mandatory for international firms to store information about Pakistani citizens within the country limits and have offices in Islamabad.
With the data traceability requirements, the country aims to monitor and tackle online trolls as well as criminals.
If foreign companies operating in Pakistan fail to adhere to the country’s new laws within the next 15 days, they could be subjected to hefty fines around $3 million.
In December 2019, the Indian Cabinet approved the Personal Data Protection Bill – which aims to create a system for processing personal data by private and public organisations with detailed rules regarding collection, handling and consent.
India’s Personal Data Protection Bill also comes with a data localization requirement despite US opposition.
The US says that it wants India to ensure that its data localisation plan treats American companies fairly, allowing them to compete on a level-playing field.