The government has proposed the establishment of an e-safety authority to safeguard the fundamental rights of social network users as part of the e-Safety Bill 2023. The bill aims to punish those who target the judiciary or armed forces.
It also prevents streaming of news or programs that could jeopardize ongoing inquiries, investigations, or trials.
The Ministry of Information Technology and Telecommunication has invited feedback from stakeholders on the draft bill. The e-safety authority will comprise a chairperson and 13 members, with one member serving full-time.
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Five members, one from each province and one from the federal capital territory, will serve for four years and not exceed the age of 65.
The chairperson and members, except ex-officio members, will hold office for four years and may be re-appointed based on the federal government’s decision.
The government reserves the right to remove a chairperson or member for reasons of disability or misconduct. Based on the authority’s recommendations, the government will establish e-Safety Complaints Commissions in Islamabad and other locations.
These commissions will address complaints against the content or expression shared by social network registration holders. Each commission will consist of a chairperson and four members, with a specific representation of women and journalists.
The government may also set up one or more e-Safety Appellate Tribunals. Any violation or abetment of the Act’s provisions by a social network platform operator may result in imprisonment or fines.
Revocation in Violation
The authority can initiate proceedings for registration revocation in case of serious violations or repeat offenders.
Operating a social network platform without registration and committing violations may lead to imprisonment or fines. The authority is authorized to request information, financial statements, or relevant documents related to regulated activities.
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To support its functions, the e-Safety Fund will be established, funded by the federal government’s seed money. The fund will cover the financial needs of the authority in carrying out its duties.