DIGITAL PAKISTAN MONITOR – October 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. 10 – October 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
Government launches Spectrum Re-farming Framework
Date: October 8, 2022 – Source: Express Tribune
The federal government plans to generate billions of dollars in revenue by centralizing ‘spectrum’, available with different departments and organizations in Pakistan, under the Spectrum Re-Farming Framework.
Half of new connectivity projects across Pakistan stalled due to floods
Date: October 15, 2022 – Source: Dawn
Out of 1,400 connectivity sites across Pakistan, work on 720 sites has been stalled due to unprecedented floods in four provinces. These projects were being executed by the Universal Service Funds (USF).
Peshawar High Court rejects plea against EPA guidelines for installing phone towers
Date: October 24, 2022 – Source: Dawn
The Peshawar High Court (PHC) declared as legal the Khyber Pakhtunkhwa Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) guidelines for the installation of mobile phone base transceiver stations (phone towers) and rejected plea of a leading company in the field challenging its legality.
Pakistan’s telecommunication sector to pay license fee in US dollars
Date: October 25, 2022 – Source: The News
The federal government refused to entertain the demand of the telecommunication sector for paying license fee in Pakistani rupees instead of United States dollars and slashing the Withholding Tax and General Sales Tax (GST) payable by the sector.
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
Date: October 12, 2022 – Source: The News
After unprecedented floods ravaged havoc on connectivity lines across Sindh, concrete policy action is needed to expand internet access and enable a digital transformation that will enable economic growth and help bridge the digital gender divide.
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
- Misinformation / disinformation / fake news
Pakistan government’s official Twitter handle ‘withheld’ in India
Date: October 2, 2022 – Source 1: Dawn, Source 2: Hindustan Times
The official Twitter handle operated by the Pakistani government was withheld in India. Twitter now displays a notice on the profile saying that it has been ‘withheld following a legal demand’.
Missing persons tells Islamabad High Court he was warned against using social media platforms
Date: October 4, 2022 – Source: The News
A missing person produced before Islamabad High Court (IHC) Chief Justice Athar Minallah told the court that he was abducted by unknown individuals and was ordered to not operate any of his social media accounts.
TikTok enhances parents control on children’s accounts
Date: October 4, 2022 – Source: Dawn
Short-video sharing platform TikTok launched a new initiative ‘FamilyFirst’ to create awareness about how parents can monitor and control their children’s in-application experience.
Government prepares list of 814 social media activists ‘propagating against state institutions’
Date: October 8, 2022 – Source: The News
Investigation agencies in Pakistan have compiled a list of 814 national and international social media activists, including journalists and bloggers, engaged in ‘propagating against state institutions, political governments and sensitive personalities.
TikTok removes more than 15 million videos originating from Pakistan
Date: October 8, 2022 – Source 1: The News, Source 2: The Daily Guardian
Short-form video sharing platform TikTok removed more than 15 million videos originating from Pakistan for violating Community Guidelines in the second quarter (April-June) of 2022.
Journalists, rights activists call for end to trolling on social media platforms
Date: October 24, 2022 – Source: The News
Pakistani journalists and rights activists called for an urgent need to check organized trolling which was pointed out as an ugly activity on social media platforms, gaining ground in the absence of effective laws to check the practice.
SECTION 4: Digitalization
- Digitalization in governance sectors / e-governance
- Digitalization in social and development sectors
- Digitalization in business and commercial sectors
Pakistan’s telecommunications sector: navigating the dichotomy
Date: October 3, 2022 – Source: Express Tribune
Pakistan’s policymakers need to recognize telecommunication as a key enabler of productivity across the economy and society. Without the right policy interventions, the sector could actually be looking at a digital dark age.
Google launches accelerator for Pakistani, Asia-Pacific startups
Date: October 5, 2022 – Source: Dawn
In an official press release, Google announced launching dedicated accelerator services for technology and non-profit organizations based in Pakistan and the Asia-Pacific region.
Date: October 12, 2022 – Source: The News
Freelancers or digital nomads from Pakistan should take advantage of digital nomad visas and work from different places. They will feel inspired and also interact with different people; they will even feel at ease with exchanging ideas regarding digital cooperation economic growth.
Digital solutions help rural Pakistan
Date: October 13, 2022 – Source: Express Tribune
Authorities in Pakistan are turning towards digital solutions to bring rural regions of to recover from the devastation of unprecedented floods. A block chain database model will be constructed that describes the economic activities of a region from five aspects: crop, livestock, aquatic, mine and non-agro.
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.