Government ‘takes notice’ of hate content on social media

ISLAMABAD: The government has reportedly taken notice of the sectarian and hate literature being circulated on the social media and decided to take action against anyone who propagates sectarianism through social media and mobile phones.
However, authorities are yet to receive formal orders from the government. The news first appeared on one state-run radio channel that officials have asked the government to launch a crackdown against those who propagate hate material that can incite sectarianism.
Officials said that if the government decides to take action, it would begin by monitoring social media for controversial statements and graphic content, which surfaced in the wake of clashes in Rawalpindi that left nine people dead and over 80 injured on Friday.
The tragedy had occurred as a mob turned against the police during the Ashura procession passing through Raja Bazaar in Rawalpindi.
Regarding the online hate content and literature, news reports say that the government has directed the Ministry of Information Technology as well as the Federal Investigation Agency (FIA) to take action.
However, the IT ministry officials claim they have no such instructions. “We did not receive any formal orders from the government until the evening,” Ministry of Information Technology Secretary Akhlaq Ahmed Tarar told The Express Tribune.  He, however, said that the orders might be in the pipeline.
Responding to a question about his ministry’s plan of action, once it receives the orders, he said, “We will act as per standard procedure and send the matter to the Inter-Ministerial Committee (IMC) for deliberations.”
The IMC, constituted by former prime minister Shaukat Aziz in 2006, has the mandate to evaluate and restrict offensive online content in the country. The committee is headed by the secretary of IT and has the representation from different ministries, including the ministries of religious affairs and interior, as well as entities and agencies.
YouTube was also blocked in September 2012 by the IT ministry on the direction of IMC after a blasphemous movie went viral and caused the eruption of violent protests across the country.
On the other hand, FIA officials told The Express Tribune that the authority had yet to receive formal directions from the government against the literature that incites hate.
When contacted for a confirmation of the government’s decision, Information Minister Senator Parvez Rashid was not available for comments.
Source: Express Tribune

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