Caretakers banned X on issues of ‘compliance’, says info minister Tarar

Published July 11, 2024 Updated July 11, 2024 08:02am

ISLAMABAD: Social media platform X (formerly Twitter) was banned by the caretaker government over “compliance issues”, Information Minister Attaullah Tarar told a Senate panel on Wednesday.

He was responding to a query raised by Senator Ali Zafar during a meeting of the Senate Standing Committee on Information.

“There is no restriction on Facebook, TikTok, Snapchat and LinkedIn, which are being used by the common man [for] posting all kinds of content,” he noted.

Mr Tarar said the Ministry of Interior had submitted its response to the high court on the matter, adding that the courts would now take a decision in this regard.

During the meeting, a number of senators from the treasury benches raised concerns over the dissemination of fake news, misinformation and disinformation.

Senator Zafar, who chairs the committee, pointed out that freedom of expression was the basic right of every citizen. But Senator Irfan Siddiqui called for steps to discourage “misuse of freedom of expression”, while Senator Jam Muhammad called for a strategy to curb disinformation and fake news.

The social media sites should be used to pursue national interests, he said.

Former information minister Pervez Rasheed regretted the propaganda shared on such sites and condemned the derogatory language being used by some elements.

The minister called for taking an initiative to curb crimes being committed in the digital domain, regretting there was currently no mechanism to tackle the issue of deepfakes.

The committee was informed that the work on a Centre for Digital Communication was underway at the Pakistan-China Friendship Centre.

“There is a need to promote entertainment in the country,” he said while stressing the need for taking initiatives for encouraging the film industry.

Under the Film Finance Fund established by the government, he said, prominent film producers were requested to float ideas for producing quality movies.

He said the local film industry should not be affected by the screening of foreign films.

The chairman of the committee sought a detailed report on the last two years performance of the External Publicity Wing, as well as the rules proposed under the Pemra amendment bill.

Published in Dawn, July 11th, 2024

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