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. 3, No. 7 July 2022 Edition

Produced by Freedom Network –

SECTION 1: Internet and digital policies and regulations

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

Government forms body to oversee next-generation spectrum auction

Date: July 18, 2022 – Source: Dawn

The federal cabinet constituted a 15-member auction advisory committee to oversee spectrum auctions for next-generation cellular and broadband services (NGMS) in Pakistan.

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

Remote digital programs empowering Pakistani women to kick start their careers

Date: July 1, 2022 – Source: Dawn

Technology isn’t just giving people the tools to bring advancements in how they function but it also paves way for young people, particularly women, to learn new skills through remote-based digital programs from the comfort of their homes.

Continuity of Pakistan’s information technology ecosystem

Date: July 4, 2022 – Source: The News

Pakistan’s surge in the information technology (IT) industry has led to many high-paying jobs for experts. This has played a role in government development and private business prosperity. There is a need for women and girls to have equal access to IT to help reduce inequalities and support their growth.

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

Pakistani court moved for action over social media posts likening corrupt politicians to donkeys

Date: July 1, 2022 – Source: The News

A Karachi-based lawyer approached a sessions court seeking directives for the Federal Investigation Agency (FIA) to act against social media posts ‘harming the dignity of animals’ by likening ‘corrupt politicians’ to donkeys.

Pakistan issues demarche to India over move to block official Twitter handles

Date: July 2, 2022 – Source 1: Express Tribune, Source 2: India Today

Pakistan issued a demarche to the Indian government for blocking access to content of 80 accounts on Twitter, including those of diplomatic missions in Iran, Turkey, Egypt, UN-New York and state broadcaster Radio Pakistan (RP) by activating geo-blocking and censorship laws.

Audio leak: Former first lady tells social media team to push ‘traitor trends’ online

Date: July 3, 2022 – Source: Express Tribune

An audio clip was circulated online in which Bushra Bibi, wife of former Prime Minister Imran Khan, can be allegedly heard directing Pakistan Tehreek-i-Insaf’s (PTI) digital media guru Dr Arsalan Khalid to spread the narrative of ‘treason’ against members of opposition political parties.

Growth in Pakistan’s e-commerce industry opens door for various online frauds

Date: July 4, 2022 – Source: Express Tribune

The last decade has seen a significant increase in digital penetration in Pakistan, which has also come as a boon for the local e-commerce industry. This expansion of e-commerce culture has also paved way for various kinds of online frauds, ranging from credit card hacks to commercial skullduggery.

Regulator appears to be missing amid increasing Pakistan-based digital loan sharks

Date: July 4, 2022 – Source: Dawn

Given the obsession of Pakistani regulators to ban digital platforms, one would like to think that the authorities should act swiftly when a large number of Pakistanis are falling prey to digital loan sharks luring consumers with misleading terms that remain vaguely conveyed.

Pakistan’s phone tapping problem

Date: July 6, 2022 – Source: Dawn

It is the season of audio leaks in Pakistan. No sooner does one ‘incriminating’ clip lose its shock value than another emerges on social media, from what appears to be a cornucopia of illicit recordings of phone conversations – usually serving the end of whoever is in power.

Judge seeks arguments on FIA report on leaked video featuring late legislator

Date: July 7, 2022 – Source: Express Tribune

The South district (Karachi) judge sought arguments on the Federal Investigation Agency (FIA) report from the lawyer of the petitioner seeking action, under the Cyber Crimes Act, against Dania Shah, ex-wife of late political leader Aamir Liaquat Hussain.

Framework formulated for Pakistan’s digital security

Date: July 8, 2022 – Source: Express Tribune

Pakistan Telecommunication Authority (PTA) announced the formulation of the Cyber Security Framework (CSF) to improve digital security in the country.

Federal government orders FIA to crack down on online character assassination, harassment

Date: July 16, 2022 – Source: Dawn

The federal government directed the Federal Investigation Agency (FIA) to crack down on individuals using digital platforms for character assassination and harassment and posting ‘unethical’ content on social media.

Sindh government asks FIA to move against social media accounts fanning hate

Date: July 16, 2022 – Source: Dawn

The Sindh government requested the Federal Investigation Agency (FIA) to take action against individuals using their social media accounts to circulate hate messages and share videos to fuel ethnic tensions in the province.

Sindh police chief writes to FIA for joint action against hate speech on social media

Date: July 17, 2022 – Source 1: The News, Source 2: Pakistan Today, Source 3: Pakistan Observer

Sindh police chief Ghulam Nabi Memon wrote a letter to the Federal Investigation Agency (FIA), and asked it to take joint action against elements involved in publishing unethical posts on social media.

FIA plans to counter cyber-attacks on Pakistan’s banking system

Date: July 17, 2022 – Source: The News

The Federal Investigation Agency (FIA) chalked out a plan to initiate a crackdown with the assistance of commercial banks operating in Pakistan against telecommunication hackers involved in the transfer of amounts of clients of different banks in their fake accounts.

TikTok removes 12.5 million videos from Pakistan

Date: July 20, 2022 – Source: The News

Short-form video platform TikTok removed nearly 12.5 million videos originating from Pakistan for violation of its international community guidelines.

343 cases of online child exploitation reported to Pakistani authorities in five years

Date: July 22, 2022 – Source: Dawn

With over two million cases of child exploitation imagery uploaded on to Facebook in 2021 in Pakistan, an official of the Federal Investigation Agency (FIA) puts the number of reported cases at only 343 during the past five years.

SECTION 4: Digitalization

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

National Press Club decides to hold elections digitally

Date: July 1, 2022 – Source: Pakistan Press Foundation (PPF)

A meeting of the governing body of the National Press Club (NPC) decided to establish an information technology (IT) committee to digitize their membership lists and make arrangements to conduct the next election through a biometric process.

Prime Minister chairs meeting on hitting $15 billion target for information technology exports

Date: July 2, 2022 – Source: Pakistan Press Foundation (PPF)

Prime Minister Shehbaz Sharif chaired a meeting on increasing the potential of Pakistan’s information technology-related (IT) exports from $2.5 billion to $15 billion.

Pakistani e-commerce startup raises $6 million

Date: July 2, 2022 – Source: Dawn

Pakistani e-commerce setup 24Seven raised $6 million in a Pre-Series A round to grow its platform Apni Dukan. The business-to-business-to-consumer (B2B2C) startup digitizes and rebrands mom-and-pop shops. It has so far on-boarded more than 2,500 resellers in five cities.

Pakistani freelancers, digital marketers demand government backing

Date: July 3, 2022 – Source: Express Tribune

Pakistan-based freelancers and digital marketers urged the federal government to make freelancing economy part of the national agenda to increase their footprint in the global market and give a boost to the treasury’s foreign reserves.

A challenging digital census for Pakistan

Date: July 4, 2022 – Source: Dawn

Pakistan has planned the next (digital) census in October 2022 after an inter-censal interval of just five years. The country is taking a big leap of faith in planning to move to a so-called digital census with only a few months of preparation.

Meta’s educational ‘Chai Chats’ series to foster digital literacy in Pakistan

Date: July 4, 2022 – Source: Associated Press of Pakistan (APP)

Meta, in collaboration with the Pakistan Telecommunication Authority (PTA), launched an educational series, ‘Chai Chats’ to create awareness among young Pakistani Facebook users on digital literacy and social cohesion through improved digital experiences.

Prime Minister names advisory body on information technology and digital economy

Date: July 6, 2022 – Source: The News

Prime Minister Shehbaz Sharif constituted an advisory council on information technology (IT) and digital economy to enhance digital economic activities in Pakistan. The council will advise the government on how to enhance the country’s digital economy by identifying key areas of growth and their way forward.

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.









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