December 3, 2021
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How government is dealing with social media platforms?

 Pakistan Pakistan

Social media platforms are currently under fire in Pakistan. While civil society is raising questions on the freedom of speech, social media companies, on the other hand, have raised alarms concerning liability, local market incorporation and data localization. Notable among the significant changes, in recent times, is that social media companies are no longer needed to set up their offices in Pakistan in a specific timeframe. The tech majors can establish their offices “as and when feasible”. Furthermore, social media companies are mandatory to register with PTA in three months. The new rules have ousted previous requirements to establish database servers in Pakistan. Decisions have been locked in light of the warnings issued by tech majors who had, at one point, said that they would stop servicing Pakistani users if their concerns were not addressed. It seems that the Pakistani government has finally realized that tech transfer and foreign investments are needed, and it was never a good idea to make regulatory directives to ask tech companies to have a local presence. And resorting to the aforementioned step sent a wrong message to foreign investors in various other sectors. It is good to see that the coercive language has been removed. Social media firms can choose to invest in local offices if they deem suitable and make business sense. It must be kept in mind that the global momentum is favouring taxing tech giants. In this environment, our country needs to ensure a conducive environment for tech companies to set up their shops here. Whether the amended social media regulations are helpful in that regard remains to be observed. It is too early to say if the STZA will take off as per the set expectations – its success depends on attracting some social media firms and the big tech, especially in domains of outsourcing, innovation labs, data centres etc. There is this issue that technology firms pay almost no tax in developing country markets where they set up their local offices. Much needs to be said and done.

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