DIGITAL PAKISTAN MONITOR – December 2021

Read this Article for me!

DIGITAL PAKISTAN MONITOR – December 2021

A monthly report on trends relating to digital rights, policies, practices & media

Tracking: Internet and digital policies and regulations

Digitalization in governance and socio-economic domains

Digital rights violations and protections

Digital rights advocacy and defense

Digital media and online free speech

Vol. 2, No. 12 December 2021 Edition

Produced by Freedom Network – www.fnpk.org

SECTION 1: Internet and digital policies and regulations

  • Federal and provincial governments (ministries and departments)
  • Internet regulators
  • Media regulators
  • Telecom regulators
  • Internet access / connectivity

Telenor Pakistan gets cellular operating license renewed

Date: December 11, 2021 – Source: Dawn

Telenor Pakistan signed on the renewal of its cellular operating license with the Pakistan Telecommunication Authority (PTA) up to 2034.

Internet, telecommunication projects approved for Kumrat, Shangla and Dadu

Date: December 13, 2021 – Source: Dawn

The federal government, through the Universal Service Fund (USF) board, approved high-speed internet and telecommunication projects for Kumrat, Shangla and Dadu worth Rs11 billion.

Starlink expresses interest to connect Pakistan with its satellite network

Date: December 15, 2021 – Source 1: Dawn, Source 2: The News

In a meeting with Federal Minister of Information Technology and Telecommunication Syed Amin-ul-Haq, officials representing US-based global satellite broadband connectivity provider, Starlink, expressed interest in connecting Pakistan to its broadband services.

Government awards contracts for broadband connectivity on Pakistan’s motorways

Date: December 16, 2021 – Source 1: Dawn, Source 2: The News, Source 3: Express Tribune

Federal Minstry of Information Technology and Telecommunication, through the Universal Service Fund (USF) awarded contracts worth Rs300 million for provision of high-speed broadband connectivity along M3 and M5 motorways.

Cellular services to remain suspended for the three days in Islamabad

Date: December 16, 2021 – Source: Pakistan Today

The federal government decided to suspend cellular services in the federal capital for three days in the wake of the meeting of Council of Foreign Ministers of the Organization of Islamic Cooperation (OIC).

Pakistan’s digital bulge

Date: December 26, 2021 – Source: Express Tribune

Nearly half of Pakistan’s population is now connected to the internet, presenting a whole breadth and width of opportunities and challenges, especially for a growing number of digitally native youngsters, given the country now has over 109 million active broadband connections.

SECTION 2: Digital rights advocacy and defense

  • Pakistan-based citizens and civil society organizations
  • Independent international digital rights organizations
  • UN and global multilateral organizations
  • Governmental and other sources

Digital apartheid in erstwhile tribal areas of Khyber-Pakhtunkhwa

Date: December 10, 2021 – Source: Dawn

Militarization in erstwhile Federally Administered Tribal Areas (FATA) has turned digital freedom into a security risk in the region. Residents of the region continue to be denied the freedom of expression and attaining digital access as a basic right.

Digital rights in Pakistan

Date: December 26, 2021 – Source: The News

The digital legal landscape in Pakistan was in increasing flux as regulatory tensions from the preceding year spilled into 2021. However, the prevalence of technology in the lives of citizens was solidified as digital connectivity rose in the country to over 50 per cent.       

SECTION 3: Digital rights violations and protections

  • Citizens and netizens – including case studies
  • Media, journalists and other information practitioners
  • Online free speech
  • Online access to information
  • Privacy violations
  • Data protection
  • Surveillance
  • Misinformation / disinformation / fake news
  • Cybercrime

Twitter account of Pakistan’s Embassy in Serbia hacked

Date: December 4, 2021 – Source 1: Dawn, Source 2: The News, Source 3: Express Tribune

The official Twitter handle of Pakistan’s Embassy in Serbia criticized the incumbent government over rising inflation and alleged non-payment of staff salaries. However, the Foreign Office (FO) claimed that the official Twitter and Instagram accounts in Belgrade were ‘hacked’.

TikTok sets up ‘special transparency center’ for Pakistani content

Date: December 4, 2021 – Source: Express Tribune

Video-sharing platform TikTok announced to set up a special transparency center aimed at strengthening its commitment to accountability of its users in Pakistan.

Federal ombudsperson stresses need for awareness on cybercrimes against women in Pakistan

Date: December 4, 2021 – Source: Express Tribune

Federal ombudsperson Syed Tahir Shahbaz urged the academies working under the criminal justice system, schools and religious forums to play their role in raising awareness on cybercrimes against women and children.

Federal government working on national artificial intelligence policy to secure digital banking

Date: December 5, 2021 – Source: Dawn

Federal Minister for Information Technology and Telecommunication Syed Amin-ul-Haq announced that the federal government would soon launch Pakistan’s first artificial intelligence (AI) policy which industry experts believe would help securing the digital banking system.

State Bank urges development of cyber security protocols for Pakistan’s financial sector

Date: December 10, 2021 – Source 1: Express Tribune, Source 2: Business Recorder (BR)

State Bank of Pakistan (SBP) Governor Dr Reza Baqir urged the need for establishing comprehensive cyber security protocols for Pakistan’s financial sector to fight disruptors and hackers that attempt to hinder efficient service provision to citizens.

India’s web of digital disinformation against Pakistan

Date: December 26, 2021 – Source: Express Tribune

As fake news onslaughts become an important element of modern conflict, India in particular has unleashed targeted social media campaigns against Pakistan along a choreographed timeline.

The dark side of cyber world

Date: December 28, 2021 – Source: Dawn

Cyber-crime can take the shape of hacking, online financial fraud, child pornography, data theft, cyberstalking, cyber extortion, crypto jacking and cyber espionage. The more we use technology, the more we are exposed to cyber-crime or digital crime.

2021 – A year of audio and video leaks in Pakistan

Date: December 29, 2021 – Source: Express Tribune

Besides Covid-19 variants, 2021 remained a year of leaked audio and video that charged Pakistan’s political atmosphere and caused concerns regarding privacy and personal data security.

Over 95 thousand cyber-crime complaints filed in Punjab during 2021

Date: December 31, 2021 – Source 1: The News, Source 2: Express Tribune

Official records showed that that the Federal Investigation Agency’s (FIA) Cyber Crime Wing (CCW) received 95,567 complaints of online fraud, sexual harassment, hate speech and blasphemy from across Punjab during 2021.

SECTION 4: Digitalization

  • Digitalization in governance sectors / e-governance
  • Digitalization in social and development sectors
  • Digitalization in business and commercial sectors

Samsung starts producing mobile phones in Pakistan

Date: December 1, 2021 – Source: Dawn

Samsung started production of mobile phones in Pakistan lifting hopes of the authorities and the industry that this would cut down the import bill of the country.

Government to launch Pakistan’s first e-commerce university

Date: December 3, 2021 – Source 1: Express Tribune, Source 2: The Nation, Source 3: Daily Times

Special Assistant to the Prime Minister (SAPM) Aon Abbas announced that the federal government was all set to lay the foundation of Pakistan’s first e-commerce university in Islamabad to enhance capabilities of e-commerce stakeholders in the emerging segment.

What Pakistanis streamed on Spotify in 2021

Date: December 5, 2021 – Source: Express Tribune

While Pakistani listeners responded well to newcomers in the music industry on Spotify, older household names remained high on demand. This goes to show that a few musical favorites from the past will always stay in demand on streaming platforms.

Cellphone imports in Pakistan decrease by 73%

Date: December 8, 2021 – Source: Dawn

The import of manufactured of completely built (CBU) mobile handsets decline by 73 per cent in on year-to-year basis to $179 million as local mobile phone assembly picks up pace in Pakistan.

Pakistani digital startups luring global investors

Date: December 10, 2021 – Source: Express Tribune

Pakistani e-commerce platforms ‘Bookme’ and ‘Bagallery’ attracted a combined $12 million in advanced rounds of fund raising as the country’s startups continue to attract venture capitalists and global investors.

Federal government partners with TikTok on Covid-19 awareness

Date: December 16, 2021 – Source: The News

Video-sharing platform TikTok announced its partnership with the Federal Ministry of National Health Services, Regulations and Coordination (MNHRSRC) to launch an awareness campaign for Covid-19 prevention in Pakistan.

Federal government likely to increase tax on cellular services in Pakistan

Date: December 21, 2021 – Source: Express Tribune

The federal government is considering increasing the withholding tax (WHT) on cellular services in Pakistan from 10% to 15% while drafting the mini budget.

Cellular operators oppose government’s move to increase tax by 50% in Pakistan

Date: December 21, 2021 – Source: Express Tribune

Cellular Mobile Operators (CMOs) in Pakistan opposed the government’s move to increasing the withholding tax (WHT) by 50 per cent, increasing it from 10% to 15%, on customers.

Ericsson underlines plans for increased investment in Pakistan’s telecommunication sector

Date: December 23, 2021 – Source 1: Express Tribune, Source 2: Ericsson

In a meeting with Federal Minister for Information Technology and Telecommunication Syed Amin-ul-Haq, Ericsson Chairman Ekow Nelson underlined that his company wanted to expand and diversify investment in Pakistan.

Artificial intelligence in Pakistan’s healthcare sector

Date: December 25, 2021 – Source: Express Tribune

Experts believe that artificial intelligence (AI) would eliminate inefficient bureaucracy in Pakistan’s healthcare providing organizations, which will make it easier to implement timely decisions benefitting citizens.

Pakistan’s telecommunication sector achieves important milestones 2021

Date: December 26, 2021 – Source: Express Tribune

Experts opined that Pakistan’s telecommunication sector shone during 2021 and achieved important milestones. During 2021, tele-diversity touched 85 per cent and 4G subscribers rose 106 million.

OBJECTIVES: This series of monthly report aims to:

  • Track developments revolving around the framework of digitalization in Pakistan including policy and advocacy on digital rights, policy enforcements and digital rights violations, covering viewpoints of government, civil society, human rights community including digital rights campaigners, media, citizen journalists and other information practitioners, and regulators of electronic media, internet and telecom sectors, and netizens.
  • Monitor the interface between digital rights and Pakistan’s overall legal framework and how developments around them impact freedom of expression and access to information online as well as diversity and pluralism in Pakistan’s digital landscape, cyberspace and internet domains.
  • Follow developments around the themes of digital rights, freedom of expression, access to information, privacy, surveillance, data protection, access to internet services, telecom policies, etc.

INFORMATION SOURCES: This report monitors, among others, the following sources of information:

  • Government: Federal and provincial cabinets
  • Ministries: Related ministries, including Information and Broadcasting, Information Technology (IT) and Telecom, Human Rights, Science and Technology, Commerce and Industry, etc.
  • Legislatures: Senate, National Assembly, provincial assemblies, relevant standing committees
  • Regulators: Pakistan telecommunications Authority (PTA), Pakistan Electronic Media regulatory Authority (PEMRA), Press Council of Pakistan (PPC), State Bank of Pakistan (SBP), etc.
  • Global organizations: UN/Unesco, International Media Support (IMS), Reporters Without Borders (RSF), International Federation of Journalists (IFJ), Committee to Protect Journalists (CPJ), Amnesty International (AI), Human Rights Watch (HRW), etc.
  • National organizations: Digital Rights Foundation (DRF), BoloBhi, Media Matters for Democracy (MMFD), Institute for Research, Advocacy and Development (IRADA), Human Rights Commission of Pakistan (HRCP), etc.
  • Media: Dawn, The News, Express Tribune, The Nation, Pakistan Today, The Friday Times, etc.
  • Social Media: Facebook, Twitter, etc.
  • Local networks: Journalists Safety Hubs Network, Alliance on Diversity & Pluralism in Media, etc.
  • Research groups: Gallup Pakistan, IPSOS Pakistan, etc.

Leave a comment

Your email address will not be published.