The Federal Government, led by Prime Minister Shahbaz Sharif, has approved the creation of an E-Safety Authority through the E-Safety Authority Bill. The main objective of this authority is to tighten the monitoring of online content in Pakistan. The Ministry of IT has drafted the bill and forwarded it to the Federal Cabinet, which has given its initial approval.
Under the proposed bill, the E-Safety Authority will be established, and its jurisdiction will be expanded by limiting the powers of existing entities such as PTA, FIA, and PEMRA. This new authority will be responsible for the registration and monitoring of all websites, web channels, and YouTube channels.
Additionally, it will have the power to register and monitor news websites, channels, and newspapers as well. The authority will also be authorized to take action against websites disseminating false news by blocking them and imposing fines.
The bill addresses the limitations of existing laws related to online monitoring. It points out that Section 37 of the PICA Act, which pertains to online monitoring, does not fulfill its intended objectives. The web monitoring authority will be withdrawn from PTA, and the powers granted to FIA under the PICA Act will be deemed insufficient.
The E-Safety Authority will also take on the responsibility of registering online news websites, thereby restricting the powers of PEMRA in this regard. Additionally, the authority will be responsible for allocating government advertisements to registered websites, web channels, and YouTube channels that align with the government’s policies.