The Islamabad High Court (IHC) on Friday gave the government till April 2 to amend the previously introduced social media rules, a private TV channel reported. The high court also directed Attorney General for Pakistan (AGP) Khalid Javed Khan to submit a report on the date. “A verdict on the petitions challenging the policy will be announced once we have seen the report,” the court maintained. Last month, the federal government had agreed to review the policy titled ‘Removal and Blocking of Unlawful Online Content (Procedure, Oversight and Safeguards) Rules 2020’ introduced in November last year, amid protests by various stakeholders. The court subsequently directed for all pleas relating to the case to be scheduled for a hearing on April 2. The IHC further observed that the contempt case against TV anchors will also be heard on the same day. Earlier, Deputy Attorney General Tayyab Shah implored that they want to complete consultations with all the stakeholders. “We have sought the opinion of some more experts,” he said. The new rules – framed under the Prevention of Electronic Crimes Act 2016 (PECA) and introduced on November 19, 2020 – placed all the internet service providers (ISPs) at par with social media companies and applied all the requirements of the social media platforms to the ISPs as well. Under the new rules, a national coordinator was to be appointed to coordinate with the stakeholders for regulating online systems. It required the social media companies to immediately remove, suspend or disable access to any online content in contravention of PECA, or any other law, rule, regulation or instruction of the coordinator. The move had drawn criticism from the Asia Internet Coalition (AIC) – including tech giants like Facebook, Google, Apple, Amazon, Twitter, and others.