No state or country can ever allow undesirable practices against its ideology nor can social media platforms be permitted to operate at will. There must some well-defined boundaries and ethical standards to be adhered to, within the ideological domain of Pakistan. The new Social Media Rules, 2020 define limits to protect people from various forms and manifestations of online negativity which is being termed as “cyber terrorism”. The new monster has many ugly faces which include blasphemy, discrediting state, abusing institutions/appointments/individuals, inciting sectarian or ethnic hate and harassment etc. The incumbent regime in Islamabad has shown an unflinching resolve and strong political will to enact laws and implement them for an effective management of internet environment. This decision has caused an undue panic within some internet watchdogs, NGOs and activists who are trying to fish in the troubled waters and create a controversy to serve their vested interests. Pakistan is facing an unprecedented onslaught of Hybrid Warfare due to regional and extra regional re-alignments. It is, therefore, imperative for Pakistani state to defend itself against this speeding invasion of chaotic cyber space (being the spearhead format of this unique warfare). Time has already come to rise to the occasion and secure advances rather allowing an unhealthy ingress, impacting social and moral fiber of our society. Keeping this view, revised social media rules were prepared by committee constituted by PM under Chairman PTA, after due consultative process with various relevant national and international stake holders. Draft rules after vetting by Ministry of Law and Justice were processed by Ministry of Information Technology & Telecommunication for cabinet, and the same stood approved on Oct 06, 2020. What was previously called the Online Harm to Persons Rules have now been replaced with Removal and Blocking Unlawful Online Content, 2020. Under the previous title, the rules were met with criticism from users and multiple social media platforms after which they were taken back There is sufficient evidence available as to how Social media platforms are being exploited by various quarters in Pakistan to spread fake and false narratives triggering chaos in society and, thus, adversely impacting our social, cultural and religious norms. Every state makes rules and enacts set of laws in conformity with its ideology and in line with its national security and foreign policy objectives. Pakistan’s digital economy is estimated to be increased to the tune of US 5.5 Billion$ which in some domains is growing at 100% annual rate. These new rules have virtually no impact on E-Commerce. Some of the local NGOs and activists are apprehending that global tech companies may be forced to shut down their operations in Pakistan. However, the huge amount of business that these tech giants generate in Pakistan will never be compromised for laws that do not impact their revenue in essence. Indeed, the new rules seek to reduce or eliminate the adverse impact of fake news, false rumors, immoral stuff, unethical content and anti-religious materials. By all means, it is the obligation of any state to ensure a chaos free society. This national obligation is protected and furthered by the enacted rules. Therefore, one must understand that Removal / Blocking of Unlawful Online Content Rules, 2020 have not been prepared in thin air, rather a comprehensive consultative process was followed. Meaningful engagement was carried out with tech companies, ISPs, digital watch dogs, legal fraternity and general public for their input and the document was compiled in conformity with Article 19 of the constitution (Chapter II, para 4 of PECA). Social media networks and OTT service providers will have to accord primary preference to Pakistan’s national laws and cultural ethos when they assess complaints related to ‘unlawful’ content; this is why Facebook’s Community Standards and Twitter’s Rules have been discreetly downplayed in the Rules. It is clearly mentioned that the State of Pakistan’s ‘sensitivities’ related to religion, culture, ethnicity, and national security should be ‘respected’ by these companies. Unfortunately, these aspects are undefined, leaving them open to broad interpretation by complainants as well as the Office of the National Coordinator. Governments in the UK and India have been deliberating on a framework to restrict ‘harmful content’ for some time. Just recently, a Russian court slapped fines worth $63,000 each upon Facebook and Twitter for refusing to comply with data localization requirements. Pakistan is a rather late and odd entry into this field with a low Internet penetration rate (roughly 35% of the total population as of 2019) and institutions with weak governance structures.With new rules in place, all social media companies such as TikTok, Facebook. Instagram and Twitter will have to put up community guidelines for its users. Platforms with more than half a million Pakistani users will have to get registered with the PTA and establish a registered office in the country within nine months of the implementation of the rules. Within three months of the office’s establishment, a focal person will have to be appointed for coordination and a data server system has to be set up within 18 months. The rules will also be applied to internet service providers. All companies and providers have been instructed to restrict content that is against the security, prestige and defense of the country. In broader sense, the new rules make it evident that the State of Pakistan believes in the concept of cyber sovereignty, placing strong emphasis on the management of information flows within its defined national territories (‘data localization’). Social media platforms and OTT service providers are bound to register themselves in Pakistan, appoint a Country Representative and setup a physical office in Islamabad. A new designation of ‘National Coordinator’ would be empowered to coordinate with federal and provincial authorities and liaise with representatives of registered companies. Some of the provisions in the Rules go beyond the scope of existing laws which it claims to complement, such as the 1996 Pakistan Telecommunication (Re-organization) Act and PECA-2016. One of the prominent anomalies is that while the new Rules have a provision pertaining to dissemination of fake news/disinformation, these phenomena are not covered anywhere in PECA-2016. What was previously called the Online Harm to Persons Rules have now been replaced with Removal and Blocking Unlawful Online Content, 2020. Under the previous title, the rules were met with criticism from users and multiple social media platforms after which they were taken back. The new law has, however, been approved by the cabinet. According to the Ministry of Information Technology and Telecommunications, the new rules will counter the flow of illegal, blasphemous, obscene and defamatory content on social media. “The Pakistan Telecommunication Authority (PTA) will not restrict or disrupt the flow or dissemination of any online content except in the case of removing and blocking access to online content which goes against the interest of Islam, integrity, security and defense of Pakistan, public order, public health, public safety, decency and morality,” it stated in no unclear terms. The new rules further stipulate that the ISPs and the SMCs could be fined up to Rs500 million for failing to abide with the directives of the PTA, while appeal against the decision can be filed in high court within 30 days of the PTA’s order. Furthermore, complaint against online content can be filed at the PTA by any aggrieved individual, federal, provincial or local government department, any state owned company, law enforcement or intelligence agency. However, it was mandatory that the PTA would keep the online content and the identity of the complainant confidential as sharing of this information could lead to the spread of the content and the complainant could face harassments from the aggrieved parties. The rules have also indicated that Data Protection Law is likely to be promulgated in Pakistan in near future and the ISPs as well as the SMCs will have to establish database servers in the country once the law is enacted. In the final analysis, the law of the land must prevail and the unbridled influx of information uploaded on social media platforms must stand the test of reason, ethics and truth. The freedom of expression must entail an equal degree of responsibility. The sooner they realize, the better. The writer is a civil servant by profession, a writer by choice and a motivational speaker by passion!