Digital Pakistan Monitor – September 2023


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. 9 September 2023 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

Pakistan eyes 5G connectivity amid foreign exchange curbs

Date: September 3, 2023 – Source: Express Tribune

Pakistan’s plans to introduce 5G services within the next ten months are facing skepticism from its telecommunications industry, which contends that foreign exchange restrictions and economic challenges present obstacles to such a rapid rollout.

Plan to launch 5G connectivity in Pakistan hits snags

Date: September 3, 2023 – Source: The News

The launch of 5G spectrum in Pakistan within ten months seems ‘nearly impossible’. Local mobile operators remain unable to buy 5G licenses owing to economic instability and devaluation of Pakistani Rupee while the federal government also failed to introduce any policy for auctioning these licenses.

PTA restores internet services in Gilgit-Baltistan

Date: September 19, 2023 – Source 1: Dawn, Source 2: Pakistan Today, Source 3: The Nation

After a 16-day suspension amid religious tensions in Gilgit-Baltistan (GB), the Pakistan Telecommunication Authority (PTA) restored mobile data services across the region.

Demonstrators in Lakki Marwat seeks internet restoration

Date: September 28, 2023 – Source 1: Dawn, Source 2: Pakistan Press Foundation (PPF)

A group of youths demonstrated for the restoration of internet services in the Lakki Marwat region as the shutdown had affected both regular and online business and the ability of students to access online educational content.

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

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

How secure is communication on WhatsApp?

Date: September 3, 2023 – Source: The News

WhatsApp has retained its status as an end-to-end encrypted platform. Paradoxically, it is not entirely private. End-to-end encryption does not guard the security of communication from being compromised on either end. Its parent company, Meta, retains data such as phone numbers and IP addresses.

TikTok challenges

Date: September 5, 2023 – Source: Dawn

The future of TikTok is uncertain but not because of the platform’s quality or user experience. As the world enters what may well be a new Cold War, the proliferation of information, even when it is disguised as entertainment, is likely to lead to the arena of conflict.  

PTA, TikTok agree to bolster digital safety in schools

Date: September 7, 2023 – Source 1: Express Tribune, Source 2: Business Recorder (BR)

The Pakistan Telecommunication Authority (PTA) and TikTok signed a memorandum of understanding (MoU) aimed at promoting digital safety government schools across the country through a multifaceted approach that includes training plans and guidelines for students, teachers, and parents.

Data of over 2 million Pakistanis stolen, offered for online sale

Date: September 21, 2023 – Source: The News

The data of 2.2 million Pakistani citizens was compromised and put up for sale online after some hackers gained access to a private company-made database used by hundreds of restaurants.

SECTION 4: Digitalization

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

TikTok to help Pakistani creators understand its guidelines

Date: September 2, 2023 – Source 1: Dawn, Source 2: Business Recorder (BR)

Short-video sharing platform TikTok announced to host a series of workshops across Pakistan under an initiative launched to help creators better understand its community guidelines.

Government mulls ordinance to digitize Pakistan’s economy

Date: September 10, 2023 – Source: Express Tribune

In an effort to digitize the economy, the interim government announced plans to bring legislative and administrative changes, besides empowering the Ministry of Information and Information Technology to play the role a data-gathering agency to broaden a narrow tax base of 4.2 million filers.

Pakistani manufacturers resume mobile phone assembly

Date: September 20, 2023 – Source: Dawn

Following an ease in import curbs, mobile phone manufacturing units in Pakistan resumed their production, currently satisfying up to 90 per cent of the local demand for phone sets.


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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