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May 17, 2016 - Comments Off on Senators Commit to Stopping The Cyber Crime Bill

Senators Commit to Stopping The Cyber Crime Bill

L-R: Farieha Aziz (Bolo Bhi), Senator Farhatullah Barbar (PPP), Senator Afrasiab Khattak (ANP), Nighat Dad (Digital Rights Foundation)

L-R: Farieha Aziz (Bolo Bhi), Senator Farhatullah Babar (PPP), Senator Afrasiab Khattak (ANP), Nighat Dad (Digital Rights Foundation)

ISLAMABAD: Digital Rights Foundation and Bolo Bhi held a consultation today on the Prevention of Electronic Crimes Bill 2015, on the day that it was set to be discussed by the Pakistani Senate, in Islamabad.

Legislation that protects citizens from cybercrime and terrorism is needed more than ever, provided that a fair and progressive balance is struck between security and liberty. The Prevention of Electronic Crimes Bill does not meet that balance - rather than protect the rights of Pakistani citizens as its authors and supporters claim, its passage will in effect criminalise freedom of expression, and put the privacy of Pakistani citizens at risk.

The aim of the consultation was to provide Senators, parliamentarians, members of civil society organisations and the media with the context of the process behind the PECB, and to discuss the problematic provisions and amendments that have been suggested in the most recent versions. Senators and Members of the National Assembly gave their thoughts on the process, and expressed their concerns and opinions on how the Senate would treat the PECB when it would be debated in the Senate. Senators Farhatullah Babar (Khyber Pakhtunwa-PPP), Shahi Syed (KP-ANP), Chairman of the Senate Standing Committee on Information Technology and Information, and Rubina Khalid (KP-PPP), also a member of the Senate Standing Committee on IT, participated in the discussions on the PECB, as did other lawmakers.

Senator Farhatullah Babar reiterated that the PECB should be subject to a true public hearing, to allow for experts in IT and law to discuss and examine the Bill. Senator Babar also stressed that proper public oversight is necessary, as is a strong balance between security and civil liberties.

L-R: Senator Rubina Khalid (PPP), member of the Senate Standing Committee on IT; Senator Shahi Syed (ANP), Chairman of the Senate Standing Committee on IT

L-R: Senator Rubina Khalid (PPP), member of the Senate Standing Committee on IT; Senator Shahi Syed (ANP), Chairman of the Senate Standing Committee on IT

Senator Rubina Khalid expressed the concern that the language of the PECB as it currently exists would be used for not just political victimisation, but religious victimisation. Senator Khalid also recounted how the PML-N government had taken advantage of the National Assembly walkout by the PPP in order to push through the PECB. Senators Khalid and Babar also stressed that the PPP has a clear stance that they will not pass the Bill in its current form, and that the Bill was in such a state that it did not deserve to be amended, but to be rebuilt from the ground up, with proper input from multi-stakeholders.

Senator Shahi Syed said that the Senate would not pass the PECB in its current form, and that a public hearing on the Bill would be organised, to allow the public to take part in the process.

MNA Syed Ali Raza Abidi (MQM)

MNA Syed Ali Raza Abidi (MQM)

Raza Ali Abdi (MQM) echoed these sentiments, saying that all efforts to push for change in the National Assembly by MQM have been exhausted, and now the responsibility lies with the Senate to scrap the PECB and start over.

All lawmakers present at the consultation agreed that rather than one faulty bill like the PECB, separate coherent and thought-out bills are required that focus on cybersecurity, cybercrime and cyberterrorism independently. It was also agreed upon that the development and implementation of strong privacy protection mechanisms – to protect Pakistani citizens, their privacy and freedom of expression – was urgently required. Iqbal Khattak, a journalist and member of Reporters San Frontieres (Reporters With Borders) echoed this statement, criticising the current lack of legal protections of legal protections regarding personal data, if said data is handed over to the authorities for any reason.

Senator Farhatullah Barbar reading the latest legal analysis of the PECB, prepared by DRF, Privacy International and Article 19 DRF

Senator Farhatullah Babar reading the latest legal analysis of the PECB, prepared by DRF, Privacy International and Article 19 DRF

Saroop Ijaz of Human Rights Watch agreed, making the important point that to date the PECB has been framed in the context of security – when we look at the Bill, he said, its failings regarding privacy and human rights must be flagged and urgently discussed.

Participants agreed that while comprehensive and well-researched cybercrime legislation is required, the PECB is not that legislation, not as it currently exists. The Bill needs to be redrafted from scratch, subject to a public hearing, and then legislation that truly reflects the concerns and input of multiple civil society stakeholders can be crafted that protects the citizens of Pakistan, but not at the cost of their privacy and freedom of expression. Digital Rights Foundation hopes that the Senate fulfils the commitments that they had made today, to ensure that any future cyber crime legislation reflects these concerns, and will working with Senators to ensure that this is the case.

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February 04, 2016 - Comments Off on ‘The State of Proactive Disclosure of Information in Khyber Pakhtunkhwa and Punjab Public Bodies’

‘The State of Proactive Disclosure of Information in Khyber Pakhtunkhwa and Punjab Public Bodies’

Public bodies of Khyber Pakhtunkhwa and Punjab are negligent in complying with the provincial Right to Information laws.

Lahore, February 4th, 2016: Digital Rights Foundation and the Coalition of Right to Information today released their 4th report “The State of Proactive Disclosure of Information in Khyber Pakhtunkhwa and Punjab Public Bodies” which analyses the official websites of public bodies from the provinces of Punjab and Khyber Pakhtunkhwa from July 2015 to December 2015 in order to evaluate their compliance with Right to Information laws and provide constructive feedback to support these public bodies in increasing pre-emptive sharing of information with the public.

This report is the third in a series aimed at assessing the proactive disclosure of information by public bodies. It is a joint-effort initiated by the Coalition of Right to Information (CRTI) and Digital Rights Foundation, with a broader aim to measure how public bodies have been using the web. It is crucial for government bodies to use their web presence effectively and responsibly in order to promote good governance and reduce corruption. This research used the RTI laws of both provinces – Punjab and Khyber Pakhtunkhwa - to evaluate the extent to which the laws are being followed.

The report found that while there have been small improvements in how these websites provide information, there has been a general reluctance in complying with laws that pertain specifically to

  • sharing the categories of information held by public bodies
  • a clear description of the manner in which requests for information may be made to the public body
  • information about particulars of the recipients of concessions, permits or authorizations granted by the public bodies

“It is important for the public to know what information is being held by each public body,” said Nighat Dad, Executive Director of Digital Rights Foundation. “With the exception of the KPK RTI Commission, none of the websites provide a clear description of the manner in which requests for information may be made to the public body. Due to this, the public has no idea of where to go for their required information. When public body websites do not explain how a person can contact them to request information or even what information is available, this adds to the confusion and creates suspicion in the minds of the public. It is a direct violation of their own RTI laws which can be resolved by simply putting up a couple of web pages.”

Many of the analysed websites show that there is a general misunderstanding about what “Web Accessibility” concerns.

“The power of the Web is in its universality. Access by everyone regardless of disability is an essential aspect.” — Tim Berners-Lee, W3C Director and inventor of the World Wide Web.

When the report evaluated public body websites according to W3C standards, it found that there are a number of barriers that prevent interaction and access to people with disabilities. Correctly designed, developed and edited websites will give all users equal access to information and functionality. This is one of the major problems with all public bodies websites.

In previous versions of the report, the research had identified the areas in which these websites were lacking and had presented clear recommendations for improvement. The recent report has found that almost none of the websites acted upon those suggestions therefore, their scores have remained largely unchanged.

Link to the report:  http://digitalrightsfoundation.pk/wp-content/uploads/2016/02/July-Dec-2015-DRF-CRTI-Report-Proactive-Disclosure-of-Information-in-KPK-and-Punjab-Public-Bodies.pdf

Contact: nighat@digitalrightsfoundation.pk

- End -

"Coalition of Right to Information seeks to promote an open information and communications policies at the federal, provincial and district levels across Pakistan. With various initiatives, the coalition of civil society organizations aims to promote citizen awareness and improve dialogue between the citizens and state."

Digital Rights Foundation is a research based advocacy organisation based in Pakistan focusing on ICTs to support human rights, democratic processes and better digital governance. DRF opposes any and all sorts of online censorship and violations of human rights both on ground and online.  We firmly believe that freedom of speech and open access to online content is critically important for the development of socio-economy of the country. www.digitalrightsfoundation.pk

Join the talk on Twitter @digitalrightspk  and like us on Facebook!

 

December 10, 2015 - Comments Off on DRF Concludes Successful Second National Conference on The Right To Privacy in The Digital Age

DRF Concludes Successful Second National Conference on The Right To Privacy in The Digital Age

ISLAMABAD, NOVEMBER 27, 2015: Digital Rights Foundation organized its second National conference in collaboration with Privacy International on The Right to Privacy in the Digital Age in Islamabad on November 26th, 2015, with the objective of starting a debate around the lack of laws pertaining to cyberspace, with regard to privacy in particular. The conference featured experts from international rights organisations who delivered sessions and answered questions on the various aspects of privacy rights, as well the use and impact of surveillance technologies.

The conference brought together stakeholders including lawyers, parliamentarians, journalists, civil society, to discuss the different aspects of privacy rights in the context of Pakistan in the 21st Century.

L-R: Matthew Rice (Privacy, Waqqas Mir, Ms. Sherry Rehman, Aftab Alam

L-R: Matthew Rice (Privacy International), Waqqas Mir, Ms. Sherry Rehman, Aftab Alam

 

Ms. Nighat Dad, rights activist and founder of DRF, welcomed the participants and explained the need for this conference which would work as a means of building the capacity of Pakistani journalists, activists and civil society organizations. The event was aimed towards understanding in depth the concepts around privacy and how mass surveillance violates privacy rights and international treaties. The goal was not only to create a greater awareness of privacy and surveillance issues, but to also provide the knowledge necessary to advocate for stronger data and privacy protection laws.

L-R: Naveed ul Haq, Waqqas Mir, Hassan Bilal Zaidi, Bushra Gohar, Iqbal Khattak

L-R: Naveed ul Haq, Waqqas Mir, Hassan Bilal Zaidi, Ms. Bushra Gohar, Iqbal Khattak

“To get death threats just for voicing my views, is not acceptable,” pointed out the former member of National Assembly Bushra Gohar, who was among the panellists who debated on the importance of striking the right balance between security and freedom. “Online safety is as important as physical safety now,” said Hassan Bilal Zaidi, staff writer for Dawn newspaper. “The security measures in Peshawar continue to haunt us,” said Mr. Iqbal Khattak, Pakistan country representative and monitor for Reporters Without Borders for Freedom. Mr. Khattak pointed towards the need for the government to control the security threats instead of controlling opinions of the individuals.

“We need effective laws that filter out hate,” said the parliamentarian Ms. Sherry Rehman, who serves as a member of the Senate. She also explained that at the same time, as an emerging democracy, we have certain laws that are an example for other countries. Lawyer Mr. Waqqas Mir, who moderated the sessions, was blunt in his view of those civil societies that have accepted the decision of the government to create laws that will block material as seen fit by it. There is a need to resist such curtailing on freedom of expression. “We have the right to privacy,” as per Article 14 of the Constitution of Pakistan, he explained.

Conference participants took part in rigorous interactive session with panellists and came away with a greater understanding of what is at stake in the struggle to balance security concerns with civil liberties.

October 28, 2015 - Comments Off on Freedom on the Net 2015: Pakistan, The State of Insecurity

Freedom on the Net 2015: Pakistan, The State of Insecurity

The State of Freedom on the Net 2015

The State of Freedom on the Net 2015

Lahore, October 27, 2015: Freedom House's Freedom on the Net report, conducted in 60 countries, examines the civil liberty, freedom and censorship trends in Pakistan over the past year. Scoring “Not Free” for Internet Freedom, 2015 marks the fourth consecutive year that Pakistan joins the host of nations share the same worst score, with policies that curtail freedom and civil liberties.

Extensively and methodically researched by Digital Rights Foundation, Pakistan in collaboration with Freedom House, the report compiles and analyses actions undertaken by the state to limit internet freedom, to violate user rights as well as the implementation of censorship in Pakistan. The 2015 edition of Freedom on the Net contains some of the following worrying highlights:

  • January 2015: The introduction of drafted cybercrime legislation, the Prevention of Electronic Crimes Bill, which includes overly broad definitions of criminal activity online, which could negatively impact freedom of expression and the right to privacy
  • March 2015: Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif disbands an inter-ministerial committee responsible for censorship of 'objectionable' material, and authorises the government regulator to take oversight
  • The November 2014 arrest of a Christian (a religious minority in Pakistan) by police who had evaded blasphemy charges related to his blog for three years
  • The deaths in August 2014 of two journalists and a network account by unidentified gunmen in their offices in Balochistan
  • The leaking of data from the corporate surveillance firm, Hacking Team, revealing interactions with private sector representatives for Pakistani state security agencies, in regards to surveillance equipment that would work on older mobile phone models, amongst other details
  • The crackdown on unverified mobile SIM cards, and mandatory biometric verification protocols that were set in place, after a December 2014 attack on school that resulted in more than 150 children being killed

The government of Pakistan continues to take ever greater steps to gain further control over the digital spaces that its citizens use, ostensibly to protect them from terrorism and criminals. While it is the duty of the state to protect its citizens, it is also the paramount duty to ensure the right to privacy, the right to freedom of expression, and the right to civil liberties are protected. As the Freedom on the Net report will show, the government is taking further steps to further curtail these rights, to police democratic discourse and stifle dissenting voices that are already threatened offline.

"The government of Pakistan often talks about bringing the nation into the 21st century, and is quick to point to its growing tech industry. But when it blocks websites and moves to clamp down on online discourse, not to mention criminalise ethical hacking, it is choking freedom of expression and the right to privacy back into an earlier, darker age in the nation's history, “ said Nighat Dad, Digital Rights Foundation’s Executive Director. “The use of surveillance tech to monitor and control our access to the internet and to digital services in general,” she continued, “would have a chilling effect on the way that we express ourselves online. Instead of being a safe space, it will be a panopticon, where we are always watched.”

“We are troubled to report that Pakistan's poor internet freedom score failed to improve in 2015. Communications shutdowns, violence, and blasphemy charges related to online content continue to restrict the environment for ordinary internet users. The government has also failed to lift the ongoing ban on YouTube,” said Madeline Earp, Asia Research analyst for Freedom on The Net.

Freedom on the Net and the research of Freedom House seek to address the failings of the state in protecting the rights of citizens, and by compiling and analysing evidence that activists and concerned citizens can use to push for greater democracy online as well as offline.

To view the country report on Pakistan in its entirety, please click here.

August 10, 2015 - Comments Off on ‘The State of Proactive Disclosure of Information in Khyber Pakhtunkhwa and Punjab Public Bodies’

‘The State of Proactive Disclosure of Information in Khyber Pakhtunkhwa and Punjab Public Bodies’

Khyber Pakhtunkhwa and Punjab government departments fail to share information with citizens via web portals; Punjab Information Department does not have even a web site: Report

Lahore, August 10, 2015:

The State of Proactive Disclosure of Information in Khyber Pakhtunkhwa and Punjab Public Bodies report reaffirms earlier findings that reveal that government departments in the provinces of K-P and Punjab have failed to comply with their own right to information laws. Khyber Pakhtunkhwa and Punjab public bodies are required to proactively disclose categories of information as mentioned in Sections 4 and 5 of Khyber Pakhtunkhwa Right to Information Act 2013 and the Punjab Transparency and Right to Information Act 2013, respectively.

In clear violation of Section 4 of the Punjab Transparency and Right to Information Act 2013, almost all of the government departments surveyed failed to provide information about particulars of the recipients of concessions, permits or authorizations granted by the public bodies involved. This information is glaringly absent from official Punjab government websites, and clearly suggests that these bodies do not want to be transparent and accountable to citizens. This furthers the narrative of earlier reports that even though it is a positive effort to legislate RTI laws meeting international standards, citizens will only benefit when the respective provincial commissions play their due role in implementing those laws.

Provincial government departments have begun to start sharing information regarding provincial budgets. However, these departments have failed to provide details regarding proposed expenditure goals, as well as actual spending that has taken place. Nor has any information been provided concerning remunerations, salaries, benefits, and any other such payments that respective departments provide to employed staff or beneficiaries.

While K-P provincial departments have begun to share information concerning Public Information Officers, under Khyber Pakhtunkhwa's right to information laws, Punjab's provincial government bodies have as yet failed to provide any information about Punjab's own designated Public Information Officer. This reluctance to provide information is noteworthy, considering that the website of the Punjab Information Commission contains a list of Public Information Officers as designated by government departments. The Commission itself, however, has not provided any information about Punjab Public Information Officers outside of this list, however.

The report does recognise that provincial governments have adopted the latest web standards and many of them actively maintain their web presence. It in light of this, therefore, that while positive steps are reaffirmed by the report, the lack of tangible reforms  being adopted to implement key sections of the respective laws of the provinces, including the details of expenditures, becomes more glaring and significant.

The State of Proactive Disclosure of Information in Khyber Pakhtunkhwa and Punjab Public Bodies report analysed 17 departments of the Punjab government and 13 departments of K-P, ranking the degree of sharing and openness adopted by the two provincial governments on a scale of zero-10, where zero equates to “doesn’t meet the provision”, and 10 equates to “completely follows the provision”.

This report is a joint-effort initiated by the Coalition of Right to Information (CRTI) and Digital Rights Foundation, with a broader aim to measure how public bodies have been using the web. With rapid technological advancement, and greater reliance on technology for information, it has become crucial for government bodies to start using their web presence more effectively in order to promote good governance and reduce corruption. This research looked at whether government departments are keeping properly maintained websites and promoting citizen feedback. The primary purpose of these reports, however, is to measure against respective RTI laws.

Current research reiterates the critical situation concerning the lack of public disclosure of the recipients of concessions, permits or authorizations granted by the public bodies of both provinces. While Coalition Of Right to Information and Digital Rights Foundation both appreciate efforts undertaken by the elected governments of Punjab and KP-K, in having enacted right to information laws, it is disappointing to see the unwillingness of public bodies to comply with those same regulations.

Much needs to be done by the Information Commissions of  K-P and Punjab to ensure that public bodies comply with the right to information laws and make information available for public consumption.

Link to the report: Proactive Disclosure Report 

Contact: nighat@digitalrightsfoundation.pk

– End –

“Coalition of Right to Information seeks to promote an open information and communications policies at the federal, provincial and district levels across Pakistan. With various initiatives, the coalition of civil society organizations aims to promote citizen awareness and improve dialogue between the citizens and state.” 

Digital Rights Foundation is a research based advocacy organization based in Pakistan focusing on ICTs to support human rights, democratic processes and better digital governance. DRF opposes any and all sorts of online censorship and violations of human rights both on ground and online. We firmly believe that freedom of speech and open access to online content is critically important for the development of socio-economy of the country. www.digitalrightsfoundation.pk

June 23, 2015 - Comments Off on Press Release: British intelligence agency hacked into Pakistan Internet Exchange

Press Release: British intelligence agency hacked into Pakistan Internet Exchange

Digital Rights Foundation is seriously concerned by revelations of the infiltration of Pakistan's Internet Exchange by Britain's GCHQ intelligence agency. We urge the government of Pakistan to take action to protect the right to privacy of Pakistani citizens, and to condemn the actions of GCHQ.

From documentation published by The Intercept, it was revealed that Britain's intelligence agency GCHQ as a result of its Computer Network Exploitation (hacking) operations had gained presence on the Pakistan Internet Exchange prior to 2008. This gave GCHQ according to the document published “access to almost any user of the internet inside Pakistan” and the ability “to re-route selected traffic across international links towards GCHQ's passive collection systems.”

This hacking operation, at a scale never previously seen before from the British intelligence agency, seriously undermines the right to privacy of all users of the internet in Pakistan. By targeting a key point in Pakistan's communications infrastructure, GCHQ have put at risk the security and integrity of a significant portion of Pakistan's communications infrastructure.

The Pakistan Internet Exchange is a core part of the communications infrastructure in Pakistan. It is a common point of transfer for a significant portion of Pakistanis' communications. This makes the intrusion all the more concerning. Any vulnerability that allows British intelligence to access the exchange is also available to any other malicious actor.

The operation from GCHQ targeted Cisco routers. Cisco routers have previously been caught up in intelligence agencies cross-border spy games. It was revealed that America's National Security Agency had been intercepting Cisco routers and installing firmware onto them before they were delivered to customers. Steps should be taken immediately by Cisco to fix any vulnerabilities discovered in their routers to protect their customers right to privacy.

This is not the first time that Pakistan has been involved in the mass surveillance programmes from intelligence agencies of a “friendly” nation. Earlier this year it was reported that the NSA had determined that Al-Jazeera's Islamabad bureau chief was a person of interest, via metadata collected from 55 million Pakistani mobile phone records, and entered in SKYNET, a computer programme designed to analyse metadata.

It is unclear whether the Pakistan government knew of these operations. The Pakistan government has an obligation to protect Pakistanis right to privacy and this level of intrusion onto critical national infrastructure undermines that obligation. It is of paramount importance that the government does all it can to account for this intrusion and to take meaningful steps to ensure the right to privacy in Pakistan and prevent it from being brazenly interfered with by foreign intelligence agencies.

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Nighat Dad, Executive Director of Digital Rights Foundation:

"The GCHQ operation highlights the growing mission creep on the part of intelligence agencies and other state actors, who frequently request more sweeping surveillance powers and authority, and who bristle at any attempts to enforce effective oversight upon them. This hacking not only does not protect ordinary people, but leaves them more vulnerable to malicious actors that can exploit the same vulnerabilities that GCHQ has infiltrated. ”

When ostensibly democratic nations carry out such draconian and unethical actions against the citizens of nations they are 'allies' of, it sets a troubling precedent. The government of Pakistan could point to the actions of the US or the UK as justification for passing greater surveillance measures against its own people."

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Further sources:

Original story here:

https://firstlook.org/theintercept/2015/06/22/gchq-reverse-engineering-warrants/

Document can be found here:

https://firstlook.org/theintercept/document/2015/06/22/gchq-warrant-renewal/

National Security Agency interdiction of Cisco routers:

http://arstechnica.com/tech-policy/2014/05/photos-of-an-nsa-upgrade-factory-show-cisco-router-getting-implant/

Al-Jazeera's Bureau Chief designated as “member of Al Qaeda” and the SKYNET programme

https://firstlook.org/theintercept/2015/05/08/u-s-government-designated-prominent-al-jazeera-journalist-al-qaeda-member-put-watch-list/

http://digitalrightsfoundation.pk/2015/05/spectrum-eyes-the-nsa-pakistani-metadata/

May 20, 2015 - Comments Off on Citizens and Industry Refute IT Minister’s Statements & Demand Proper Public Hearing

Citizens and Industry Refute IT Minister’s Statements & Demand Proper Public Hearing

PEC Bill/2015:

 INDUSTRY AND CIVIL SOCIETY ACTIVISTS STRONGLY REFUTE

IT STATE MINISTER’S DELIBERATE DISTORTIONS AND ALLEGATIONS

AND DEMAND PUBLIC HEARING

20 May 2015

 

We, the Joint Action Committee on the Pakistan Electronic Crimes Bill 2015 (PECB) & Alliance For Access, reject and take strong exception to statements made by Minister of State for IT & Telecommunications, Ms. Anusha Rahman, during the NA Standing Committee on IT’s meeting on 20th May 2015.

During the meeting Ms. Rahman remarked that ‘elements are making a hue and cry so that no laws against cyber crimes could be enacted in the country’. This is entirely false and a gross misrepresentation of what members of civil society and industry have been saying throughout the process.

We have categorically stated that a cyber crime law is required to deal with crimes. However, in its current form, the Bill is not acceptable to the public, the IT industry and the media. It will be highly detrimental to the fundamental Constitutional rights of all citizens to the freedom of speech and expression; the right to information; it will negatively impact legitimate business, research, education, information, and will have an adverse impact on Pakistan’s economy. Additionally, this draft will affect journalism at large in the country and, ultimately, lead to an absence of investigative journalism by diminishing access to information, which would otherwise strengthen the government’s fight against corruption and nepotism.

Moreover, we have repeatedly insisted that public input must be taken on the draft Bill, and that it should be reviewed and revised through an open, transparent and consultative process. This is in keeping with democratic norms of legislation and political participation.

Ms. Rahman also said today that had there been a cyber crime law, the Axact case would not have happened. We ask her: although there are multiple laws in the country, does that mean crimes are not committed? Laws are enacted to ensure action can be taken against a crime after it is committed. In Axact’s case, the FIA has already acted through search, seizure and detention. The investigation is underway, therefore, clearly a lack of law has not been a hindrance. The Axact issue should not be used as a convenient excuse to push through the‪ ‎cyber crime Bill in its current draconian form, without consultation or seeking public input and making the necessary changes.

A public hearing on the PEC Bill is scheduled for Friday, May 22, 2015. However the ‘invitation’ has only been extended to seven people to appear before a committee of 20 members. This is contrary to the spirit of a “public hearing.”

The Joint Action Committee members  are definitely among the stakeholders, but we are not the only ones. Instead of hand-picking selected invitees, we call upon the NA Standing Committee on IT to conduct the public hearing in a proper manner, by opening it to all concerned members of the public and invite the entire print and electronic media too, in the spirit of transparency and openness.  No other course of action is acceptable.

Signed:

Bolo Bhi

Bytes For All

Digital Rights Foundation

Human Rights Commission of Pakistan

Internet Service Providers Association of Pakistan

Media Matters for Democracy

Pakistan Software Houses Association

Reporters Without Borders

April 21, 2015 - Comments Off on New Cybercrime Bill Threatens the Rights to Privacy and Free Expression in Pakistan

New Cybercrime Bill Threatens the Rights to Privacy and Free Expression in Pakistan

ARTICLE 19 and Digital Rights Foundation Pakistan have serious concerns about measures contained in Pakistan’s proposed Prevention of Electronic Crimes Bill (‘PEC Bill’). The Bill contains a number of provisions that, if implemented, would violate the rights to freedom of expression and privacy. We urge members of the Senate of Pakistan to reject the Bill and call on the Pakistani parliament to ensure that any new cybercrime legislation is fully compliant with international human rights standards.

In our joint legal analysis, ARTICLE 19 and Digital Rights Foundation Pakistan address the following concerns:

  1. Power to manage intelligence and issue directions for removal or blocking of access of any intelligence through any information system

  2. Overbroad offences against misuse of computers and lack of public interest defence

  3. Glorification of an offence and hate speech

  4. Overly broad cyber-terrorism offence

  5. Offences against dignity of natural persons

  6. Offences against modesty or a natural person and minor

  7. Cyberstalking

  8. Spoofing

  9. Criminalising the production, distribution and use of encryption tools

Read more information, including our recommendations, in the PDF below:

Pakistan Cyber Crime Joint Analysis

 

April 20, 2015 - Comments Off on Without Oversight: A Joint Statement on the 2015 PEC Bill by Digital Rights Foundation, Privacy International, Human Rights Watch and Article 19

Without Oversight: A Joint Statement on the 2015 PEC Bill by Digital Rights Foundation, Privacy International, Human Rights Watch and Article 19

Joint Statement from Article 19, Human Rights Watch, Privacy International, Digital Rights Foundation, and others on the Prevention of Electronic Crimes Bill 2015 Pakistan.

ARTICLE 19, Human Rights Watch, Privacy International, Digital Rights Foundation, and others are seriously concerned by the proposed Prevention of Electronic Crimes Bill in Pakistan. The Bill introduces a series of new provisions that pose a grave risk to freedom of expression and privacy in Pakistan. We urge members of the Senate of Pakistan to take a stand against the Bill and call on the Pakistani legislature to ensure that any new cybercrime legislation is fully compliant with international human rights standards.

Read more

December 16, 2014 - Comments Off on KPK and Punjab Public Bodies Consistently Fail to Comply with RTI Laws

KPK and Punjab Public Bodies Consistently Fail to Comply with RTI Laws

Provincial governments of Punjab and Khyber Pakhtunkhwa (KPK) have failed to comply with their respective Right to Information (RTI) laws, as the year long research reports indicates.

Lahore, January 1, 2015:

Annual research report titled ‘The State of Proactive Disclosure of Information in Khyber Pakhtunkhwa and Punjab Public Bodies’ reaffirms earlier findings that public bodies in both the provinces have failed to comply with their own right to information laws. Khyber Pakhtunkhwa and Punjab public bodies are required to proactively disclose categories of information mentioned in Sections 5 and 4 of Khyber Pakhtunkhwa Right to Information Act 2013 and Punjab Transparency and Right to Information Act 2013,  respectively.

This report was an effort initiated by Coalition of Right to Information (CRTI) and Digital Rights Foundations with a broader aim to measure how public bodies have been using the web. With advancements of technologies, it has become crucial for public bodies to start using their web presence more effectively in order to promote good governance and reduce corruption. This research scaled if the government departments are keeping properly maintained websites and promoting citizens' feedback. However, the primary purpose of these quarterly reports was to measure against respective RTI laws if the bodies were complying with their own laws.

While civil society and citizens appreciate elected governments of Punjab and KPK for having passed their local RTI laws, it is disappointing to see the unwillingness of public bodies to comply with those regulations. What was even more surprising though was the discovery that Information Commission of Punjab and Information Department of KPK even lack a website of their own. If the information commissions are themselves not promoting RTI laws and lack web presence and / or conformity to RTI laws, how do they expect other departments to uphold those policies?

As pointed in our earlier quarterly reports, this final report of year 2014 also kept up with the finding of having no example where a department has disclosed information about recipients of concessions, permits or authorizations granted by the public bodies. Transparency will not witness any improvement if information commissions and local government do not promote their departments to proactively disclose financial information, concessions, and benefits their employees receive as it is an important way forward to good governance.

A lot has to be done by the KPK and Punjab Information Commissions to ensure that public bodies comply with the right to information laws,  present information in user-friendly way proactively, and promote raising awareness of citizens' right to information and their required feedback in governance.

Link to the report: Proactive Disclosure Report 

Contact: nighat@digitalrightsfoundation.pk

– End –

“Coalition of Right to Information seeks to promote an open information and communications policies at the federal, provincial and district levels across Pakistan. With various initiatives, the coalition of civil society organizations aims to promote citizen awareness and improve dialogue between the citizens and state.”

 

Digital Rights Foundation is a research based advocacy organisation based in Pakistan focusing on ICTs to support human rights, democratic processes and better digital governance. DRF opposes any and all sorts of online censorship and violations of human rights both on ground and online. We firmly believe that freedom of speech and open access to online content is critically important for the development of socio-economy of the country. www.digitalrightsfoundation.pk