Prime Minister Shehbaz Sharif has approved a draft amendment to the Prevention of Electronic Crimes Act (PECA) 2016, signaling the government’s move towards regulating social media through legal reforms.

The proposed PECA Amendment Bill 2024 includes provisions for the creation of a Digital Rights Protection Authority. Upon cabinet approval, the bill will be presented in Parliament.

The initiative for this amendment originated from the Legal Reforms Committee of the cabinet, which recommended establishing the Digital Rights Protection Authority under the Ministry of Information Technology.

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This authority will be tasked with advising the government on digital rights issues, promoting responsible internet use, and overseeing regulatory enforcement. It will also collaborate with social media platforms to cultivate a positive digital environment, regulate online content, investigate violations of the updated PECA law on social media, and take punitive actions against offenders.

Authorized to gather information from relevant individuals and witnesses, the authority will have the power to develop regulations to ensure compliance with digital rights laws, thereby creating a secure online environment and upholding user protections while safeguarding fundamental rights.

Officials emphasize that this bill aims to protect citizens’ privacy from the risks associated with social media and is separate from institutional matters.

Last week, the Ministry of IT issued a Statutory Regulatory Order (SRO) to establish the National Cyber Crime Investigation Authority.