DIGITAL PAKISTAN MONITOR – June 2022

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DIGITAL PAKISTAN MONITOR – June 2022

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. 6 June 2022 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

Fault in submarine cables slows down internet services across Pakistan

Date: June 8, 2022 – Source: Pakistan Press Foundation (PPF)

Authorities confirmed that, due to fault in a submarine fiber optic cable, consumers in different parts of Pakistan experienced slower internet speed on social media platforms.

Internet services in northern Pakistan affected by ‘cut’ in fiber optic cable

Date: June 17, 2022 – Source: The News

According to the Pakistan Telecommunication Authority (PTA), Internet services in the northern parts of Pakistan were affected due to a ‘cut’ in the fiber optic cable.

Pakistan telecommunication operators warn of ‘connectivity blackouts’ due to power cuts

Date: June 29, 2022 – Source 1: Dawn, Source 2: Express Tribune, Source 3: Gulf News

Cellular mobile operators (CMOs) warned the Pakistan Telecommunication Authority (PTA) that if the ongoing electricity load-shedding was not controlled, the telecommunication operators would be constrained to notify a schedule for ‘connectivity blackouts’ to control costs.

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

Internet as a human right

Date: June 18, 2022 – Source: Pakistan Press Foundation (PPF)

Technological advancements paved the way for the internet revolution. The internet has become a global platform for connecting humans living in different parts of the world. It is important that all Pakistani citizens are afforded access to internet to improve their lives.

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

Peshawar High Court disposes of petition against TikTok videos

Date: June 1, 2022 – Source: Dawn

The Peshawar High Court (PHC) disposed a petition against video-sharing platform TikTok after the Pakistan Telecommunication Authority (PTA) informed the court that millions of videos having ‘immoral material’ had been removed from the digital platform.

Government to review privacy laws for Pakistani mobile phone users

Date: June 5, 2022 – Source: The News

The federal government, in consultation with the Pakistan Telecommunication Authority (PTA), is contemplating to review its privacy laws for protecting the data of mobile phone users in the country.

Pakistan Telecommunication Authority at odds with ISPs over internet domain policy

Date: June 5, 2022 – Source: Dawn

Serious differences cropped up between the Pakistan Telecommunication Authority (PTA) and domestic internet service providers (ISPs) as the former wants to implement the central DNS (Domain Name System) while the latter expressed concerns regarding internet speed, cost and privacy.

Supreme Court of Pakistan seeks clarity on Section 20 of electronic crimes act

Date: June 9, 2022 – Source: Dawn

The Supreme Court of Pakistan (SCP) dropped hints of determining the constitutionality of two distinct decisions made by different high courts about Section 20 of the Prevention of Electronic Crimes (Amended) Ordinance (PECA) that criminalized defamation.

Twitter suspends Pakistani Prime Minister’s official Arabic-language handle

Date: June 8, 2022 – Source: Pakistan Press Foundation (PPF)

Twitter, without justification and reportedly for a few hours, suspended the official Arabic-language handle operated by Prime Minister Shehbaz Sharif from its social media platform.

Khyber-Pakhtunkhwa recruits 1,360 social media influencers to ‘counter fake news’

Date: June 17, 2022 – Source: The News

The Khyber-Pakhtunkhwa (KP) government recruited around 1,360 social media influencers (SMIs) to ‘counter fake news and negative propaganda’ against the Pakistan Tehreek-i-Insaf-led (PTI) provincial government.

Social media activist goes missing in Karachi

Date: June 24, 2022 – Source 1: Dawn, Source 2: Express Tribune

Karachi-based journalist and social media activist Arsalan Khan reportedly went missing with friends of the journalists claiming that he was abducted by unidentified officials of law enforcement authorities. Police authorities, however, denied any involvement in the detention of the journalist.

Detained social media activist released by Sindh Rangers

Date: June 25, 2022 – Source 1: Dawn, Source 2: The News, Source 3: Express Tribune

In a statement, the Sindh Rangers confirmed that journalist and social media activist Arsalan Khan had been arrested by the paramilitary personnel in Karachi on the basis of ‘intelligence that he was in contact with a terrorist group’ and later released.

Diminishing space for plurality: India blocks Twitter handles operating by Pakistani missions

Date: June 29, 2022 – Source 1: Dawn, Source 2: The News, Source 3: Freedom Network (FN)

The Foreign Office (FO) and Pakistan Telecommunication Authority (PTA) expressed alarm after Indian authorities blocked Twitter handles operated by several Pakistani embassies and mission abroad for local viewership.

PTA complains to Twitter about India’s move to censor official Pakistani handles

Date: June 30, 2022 – Source: The News

The Pakistan Telecommunication Authority (PTA) took up the issue of blocking the official Twitter handles operated by Pakistani embassies and other noted personalities in India. Twitter officials have been urged to reconsider their biased suppression of information and restore the blocked handles.

SECTION 4: Digitalization

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

Federal government to set up information technology park in Karachi

Date: June 5, 2022 – Source: Pakistan Press Foundation (PPF)

Federal Minister for Information Technology and Telecommunication Syed Amin ul Haq announced the setting up of an information technology (IT) park in Karachi and a piece of land costing Rs31 billion had been acquired in this regard.

Pakistani information technology exports surge to $1.9 billion

Date: June 10, 2022 – Source: Express Tribune

According to the State Bank of Pakistan (SBP), information technology exports surged to $1.94 billion during July-March Fiscal Year 2022 at a growth rate of 29.26 per cent in comparison to $1.5 billion in the same period of last year.

 

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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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