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Politics

Pakistan's tough stance on 'fake news' threatens basic freedoms

Draconian measure meant to tackle rampant disinformation on social media

Pakistan's Prime Minister Imran Khan, who entered office in 2018, was listed by Reporters Without Borders in 2021 as a "press freedom predator."   © AP

ANKARA -- Pakistan moved over the weekend to tighten up a controversial cybercrime law in order ostensibly to tackle fake news on social media, but media organizations and rights activists said it could target opposition critics and stifle freedom of speech.

The Pakistan Electronic Crimes Act 2016 (PECA) was amended using a presidential ordinance. The law already criminalized certain kinds of speech including "offenses against the dignity of a natural person."

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