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June 12, 2024 - Comments Off on May 2024 Newsletter: DRF successfully completes the inaugural Digital Literacy and Citizenship Bootcamp

May 2024 Newsletter: DRF successfully completes the inaugural Digital Literacy and Citizenship Bootcamp




Under a generous grant from the U.S Embassy Islamabad and in collaboration with the American Institute of Pakistan Studies (AIPS), the Digital Rights Foundation, led by Senior Program Manager Zainab Durrani, conducted the inaugural session of the 10-Day Digital Literacy and Citizenship Bootcamp at the University of Karachi between April 22nd and May 3rd, 2024. 


The Bootcamp was attended by 63 students from the Department of Public Administration. The Digital Literacy Bootcamp has been designed to build the capacity of university students on key digital rights issues like digital literacy, online information landscape, digital safety and digital citizenship, keeping in mind that online spaces are now reflective of our lived experiences in our offline lives and with our digital profiles opening new avenues for us, it is crucial to be aware of our rights as digital citizens. The Bootcamp comprises a series of 40+ modules that are designed and aimed at fostering the knowledge of digital citizens in Pakistan in online safety skills to navigate online spaces more effectively. 


Policy Initiatives: 

World Press Freedom Day 2024

On World Press Freedom Day 2024, we celebrated the resilient voices of female journalists and our 200+ members strong Network of Women Journalists for Digital Rights (NWJDR).


DRF joins organizations in the Global South Alliance  in issuing a statement about their position on the UN Global Digital Compact (GDC) and Summit of the Future

The organizations would like the global body to address pressing issues for civil society in the digital rights sphere with a focus on several areas including Internet access, Research and Data access. They are also expressing concern over the global distribution of risks and opportunities offered by existing and emerging technologies. As much as they welcome the process of a GDC that would contribute towards bridging gaps brought about by inequalities created by technologies, it is their position that the Global South has unique needs and priorities, influenced by unique contexts, dependencies and technology infrastructure.


Read the full statement here


World Telecommunication And Information Society Day

DRF commemorated World Telecommunication and Information Society Day by shedding light on the Digital Divide in Pakistan through a gendered lens.


Digital Rights Foundation joined over 80 Civil Society Organizations and Journalists in Rejecting the Punjab Defamation Bill (2024)

DRF joined over 80 civil society organizations and journalists in rejecting the Punjab Defamation Bill. The Punjab Defamation Bill (2024) is a significant infringement on freedom of expression and press freedom, serving as a draconian tool to suppress dissent, particularly targeting journalists and the public. The bill's provisions, which allow defamation actions without proof of actual damage and impose harsh fines, amount to legal intimidation tactics. By replacing district courts with tribunals, the bill enables undue interference and sets a dangerous precedent by broadly defining "journalists" and "newspapers" to include social media users. This legislation's disproportionate punishments, such as blocking social media accounts, are antithetical to democratic principles. In the statement, we urge the Punjab government to reverse this regressive effort and engage in inclusive consultations to effectively address disinformation and hate speech.


The Network of Women Journalists for Digital Rights (NWJDR) condemns the online abuse and threats against Absa Komal

Press Coverage: 

Nighat Dad on Al Jazeera English | How deepfakes can jeopardise the integrity of elections 

Nighat Dad discusses founding the Digital Rights Foundation a decade ago due to her experiences as a South Asian woman and observing digital rights issues in South Asia, especially Pakistan. As a lawyer focused on women's rights, she saw marginalized groups, especially women, facing significant challenges online. 


Initially, issues included misinformation, disinformation, digital voter suppression, and online privacy. Now, AI has exacerbated these problems, manipulating voter behavior through algorithms, generative content, and deep fakes. She emphasizes that AI-driven decision-making in elections is often unfair and discriminatory, with a severe impact on female politicians in countries like Pakistan.


Watch the entire panel here.


‘Uncharted terrain’: How officials, campaigners and fact-checkers tackle AI’s influence on elections around the world

Nighat Dad discusses the impact of generative AI on Pakistan's February election, particularly how Imran Khan's AI-cloned voice messages mobilized voters. Despite the enthusiasm around AI's potential, Dad, founder of the Digital Rights Foundation, expresses concerns over the technology's negative effects, especially the spread of deepfakes and disinformation. She highlights the risks posed to marginalized groups, including women and religious minorities, who have faced attacks through AI-generated sexualized and blasphemous content, potentially endangering their safety in Pakistan's conservative society.


Read the full article here.


Nighat Dad on Asma Sherazi’s show on  HUM News

Nighat Dad, while criticizing the Punjab Defamation Bill on Asma Shirazi's program on Hum News, stated that the bill is against freedom of expression and press freedom. She described the bill as harsh and biased, aimed at protecting government officials from accountability. Nighat Dad emphasized that the penalties proposed in the bill are disproportionate and could be used against minority groups and women.


Listen to her full discussion here.


Nighat Dad about the new Cyber Crime Agency on Aik News

Will this new Cyber Crime Agency lead to social media restrictions? Digital rights activist Nighat Dad has openly expressed her views.


Listen to her full talk here.


Seerat Khan on GTV

Seerat Khan, DRF's Program Lead, spoke with GTV News about the fear surrounding AI, particularly the proliferation of deep fake imagery. Women are the most vulnerable to this behavior, and it has the potential to permanently alter their lives.


Byte backlash: new cybercrime agency raises eyebrows

Nighat Dad expresses concern over the lack of consultation with civil society regarding a new cyber agency. She highlights the uncertainty and confusion surrounding the agency's formation and its impact on ongoing cybercrime cases. Dad worries about how her cybercrime helpline will function, questioning which agency to refer cases to and the fate of current cases handled by the FIA. And she emphasizes the need for clarity on these issues as they remain unresolved.


Read the full article here.


DRF in Press

The Nation Cyber Crisis
NOS Meta Supervisory Board: Instagram and Facebook censor Palestinians
Turkiye Newspaper Meta reveals censor allegations on Facebook, Instagram regarding Palestinian content
IRNA Facebook, Instagram censor pro-Palestinian content: Oversight Board
Aurora | Dawn The Dual Glass Ceiling
Tribal News Network Federal Government Establishes National Cyber Crime Agency, Igniting Debate on Press Freedom
Dawn Confidential data leak to attract trial under Secrets Act
GTV Parenting In A Digital Age | What Are Kids Doing Online | G Utha Pakistan



Nighat Dad at UNSG AI Advisory Board Meeting in Singapore

Nighat Dad recently attended the United Nations Secretary-General's AI Advisory Board meeting in Singapore. She emphasized the importance of AI governance, ethics, and human rights, advocating for inclusive development and protection of privacy and freedom of expression. Dad called for robust regulatory frameworks to prevent misuse and discrimination, particularly against marginalized communities, highlighting her commitment to global digital rights advocacy and her role in shaping policies that balance technological advancement with human rights.


Safeguarding Women Against Online Abuse & Cybercrime at Shaheed Benazir Bhutto University, Peshawar

DRF’s Legal Manager, Irum Shujah, and Digital Security Trainer, Noman Fareed, conducted a workshop at Shaheed Benazir Bhutto University, Peshawar, in collaboration with the US Consulate Peshawar. The interactive session included faculty members and students from various departments. The trainers discussed the importance of digital rights and online safety, taking questions from participants throughout the workshop.


The legal portion of the training covered topics such as the Prevention of Electronic Crimes Act 2016, the Workplace Harassment Act, and relevant sections of the Pakistan Penal Code. Meanwhile, the digital training provided insights into basic to advanced settings of chatting apps and other tools, commonly used in academia.


Meta Training on Communications Tools

DRF’s Communications Team attended a training by Meta that delved deep into how content works on Meta platforms and what is the best way to highlight your own content on said platforms.


Research as Resistance: Convening on People’s Research for Movement Building in Asia Pacific

DRF’s Research Associate, Maryam Ali Khan, attended a three-day convening from 21st to 23rd May. During this event, she participated in a panel on "Research, AI, and Digital Rights and Justice." The discussion explored research in the context of rising digitalization and Artificial Intelligence as both a tool and a site of research, and what this means for people’s research in our region. The convening was arranged by the Asia Pacific Forum for Women, Law and Development (APWLD) in Chiang Mai, Thailand.

The aim of the convening was to build a shared understanding of how we do research for movement building in our region and the contexts we navigate to do so, explore collectively the results and impacts of feminist and peoples' research in the region, and based on our collective conversations, identify areas for support, improvement and collaboration in the region. 


Justice Project Pakistan organized a Consultative Dialogue with Ms. Christine Chung (UN OHCHR) on 28 May 2024

On 28 May 2024, DRF’s Legal Associate participated in a consultative dialogue with Ms. Christine Chung (UN OHCHR) which was organized by Justice Project Pakistan in Lahore. The roundtable included policy experts, lawyers, human rights activists, and civil society members to discuss strategies for engaging with the United Nations (UN) in light of Pakistan's upcoming UN Treaty Body reviews. At the start of the consultation dialogue, the upcoming reviews including (i) Pakistan's review on compliance with the Convention on the Elimination of all forms of Racial Discrimination (CERD) in August 2024, (ii) Pakistan's review on compliance with the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights (ICCPR) in October 2024, (iii) Pakistan's review on compliance with the Convention on the Rights of the Child (CRC) in January 2025, and (iv) Pakistan's review on compliance with the Convention on Economic, Social and Cultural Rights (CESCR) later in 2025 were discussed. During the dialogue, stakeholders discussed issues related to human rights enforcement and the challenges faced in implementing international standards in Pakistan. The consultative dialogue was concluded with a hope to develop a strategy, involving submitting reports and letters to UN committees and special procedures, for improved and coordinated civil society engagement with the UN system at this critical juncture.

Digital Literacy session in government school under Hamara Internet Mahfooz Internet 

This month DRF held its last session in a government school in Lahore with their Digital Citizens program. 120 students (females only) and 5 teachers were informed about ways of staying safe in online spaces and reporting mechanisms in case of harassment or bullying. The participants were given gift bags with online safety resources and stationary.


DRF Updates: 

Cyber Harassment Helpline 

The Cyber Harassment Helpline received 398 complaints in total in May 2024, with 213 complaints by women. If you’re encountering a problem online, you can reach out to our helpline at 0800-39393, email us at [email protected] or reach out to us on our social media accounts. We’re available for assistance from 9 am to 5 pm, Monday to Sunday.


IWF Portal

DRF in collaboration with Internet Watch Foundation (IWF) and the Global Fund to End Violence Against Children launched a portal to combat children’s online safety in Pakistan. The new portal allows internet users in Pakistan to anonymously report child sexual abuse material in three different languages- English, Urdu, and Pashto.

Meta along with Revenge Porn Helpline (RPH) has launched a portal to support victims of Non-Consensual Intimate Image Abuse (NCII). NCII is a free portal for reporting cases of sensitive or sexual content existing online. Once you report a case, the necessary steps will be taken to block the images from the platform.