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May 21, 2024 - Comments Off on April 2024 Newsletter: Digital Rights Foundation released its Cyber Harassment Helpline Report for 2023

April 2024 Newsletter: Digital Rights Foundation released its Cyber Harassment Helpline Report for 2023

The Digital Rights Foundation (DRF) has released its seventh annual Cyber Harassment Helpline Report for 2023. The Helpline has completed seven years of operations since its launch in December 2016 and has received a total number of 16,849 complaints from across Pakistan. In 2023 alone a total of 2473 new complaints were received on the helpline with an average number of 206 new complaints received each month and February 2023 having the most complaints in the year.


Read the entire report here:


Press Coverage:


The Daily Spokesman Digital Rights Foundation releases Cyber Harassment Helpline report for 2023
The Public Purview DRF released seventh annual Cyber Harassment Helpline Report
The Reporters DRF Cyber Harassment Helpline Report: Rise in Online Violence
Dawn Report notes use of AI for violence against women
The News Women largest victims of online harassment: DRF
The Friday Times AI Among Technologies Increasingly Used To Harass Women Online In Pakistan Average of 206 harassment complaints each month: DRF Helpline Report ’23
Daily Dunya
Times of Karachi DRF report highlights alarming rate of online harassment against women in Pakistan
India Blooms Pakistan witnessing surge in cases related to AI use in violence against women


Policy Initiatives: 

Digital Rights Foundation releases its annual report

This comprehensive annual report highlights DRF's efforts during the transformative year of 2023, highlighting the organization's significant milestones and notable accomplishments. At the heart of DRF's mission is an unwavering dedication to creating online spaces that are not only safer, but also more inclusive and accessible to all. This report exemplifies our core values by demonstrating the diligence and dedication we bring to our mission year after year, resulting in a tangible difference.


Read the entire report here:


Digital Rights Foundation Public Comment On Oversight Board Case 2023-038-Fb-Mr (Pakistani Parliament Speech)

In May 2023, a video was posted on Facebook by a news channel where a Pakistani politician was addressing the parliament and made comments that suggested that some public officials, including military personnel, needed to be hanged in order for the country to ‘heal itself.’ This was achieved by drawing parallels between the contemporary Pakistani political landscape and the perceived necessity for these executions with an ancient Egyptian ritual where individuals were sacrificed in the River Nile as a means of controlling flooding. Considering this, DRF submitted a comment stating that Meta should have taken down the video from Facebook in accordance with its Violence and Incitement Policy


However, after review the Oversight Board upheld Meta’s decision to leave up the content. The Board found that the post does not violate the Violence and Incitement Community Standard because it was shared by a media outlet seeking to inform others and therefore falls under the exception for “awareness raising.” The full decision can be read here


Girls in ICT Day 2024

On this Girls in ICT Day 2024, DRF held a session in the GGHS Model APS Model Town Lahore public school to emphasize the importance of developing leadership skills among young women in the field of ICT, as well as the importance of online safety and digital literacy.


Watch the entire coverage here:


Press Coverage: 


Rolling Stone Fake Photos, Real Harm: AOC and the Fight Against AI Porn
Compiler Harm Reduction
The Friday Times Pakistan's Misogynistic Lord Of The Flies
The Express Tribune Harassment via AI
Dawn ‘Women more prone to online hate speech’
The Express Tribune Parliament, judiciary urged to protect rights
IFEX Journalists who ‘crossed the line’, digital repression, blasphemy prosecutions, and marriage equality bill
The Current Asma Jahangir Conference receives flak for expelling pro-Palestinian protestors



Nighat Dad at Skoll World Forum

Nighat Dad was part of the panel at Skoll World Forum titled “Reclaiming Truth in the Age of Information Disorder''. She discussed the crucial role of credible and truthful information in sustaining democracy. She highlighted the challenges posed by emerging technologies, such as fake news and deep fakes, which complicate the identification of truth. Dad emphasizes the growing crisis of distrust in institutions and information, which is particularly critical during elections and highlighted DRF’s work such as our Cyber Harassment Helpline that helps mitigate such a crisis. 

The session also explored potential solutions to counter misinformation and restore trust in democratic processes.


Watch the entire panel here:


Nighat Dad at the IFEX Convening 

Nighat Dad, Executive Director of the Digital Rights Foundation, attended the first in-person IFEX network convening since the COVID-19 pandemic in April. This significant event, held in Berlin, provided a rare and invaluable opportunity for over 100 member organizations from more than 70 countries to come together and deepen their collaborative efforts in defending freedom of expression and information. The gathering prioritized authentic, unstructured interactions over formal presentations, fostering vibrant corridor conversations and genuine engagement. This approach was aimed at strengthening connections and collective power, underlined by a set of newly adopted principles of collaboration.

Nighat Dad at Asma Jahangir Conference 2024 (AJCONF 2024)

DRF's Executive Director Nighat Dad talked as a panelist on the panel discussion titled “Online Hate Speech & Disinformation” at the 5th Asma Jahangir Conference held on 28 April 2024 in Lahore. The panel focused on relevant laws and regulations in Pakistan governing online hate speech and disinformation. Additionally, the discussion revolved around how social media companies enforce human rights standards, particularly concerning vulnerable communities and sexual/gender minorities. The ongoing litigation under unconstitutional laws (e.g., section 20 of the Prevention of Electronic Crimes Act 2016 and 124-A sedition of the Pakistan Penal Code 1860) was also discussed. 


At the end of the panel discussion, there was a call for capacity-building training for government and law enforcement personnel to improve investigation methods and evidence handling, and also an appeal for state efforts to regulate social media while safeguarding human rights by considering decriminalization of speech in general. Furthermore, the discussion highlighted the need to maintain a check on the adverse effects of social media platforms blocking free speech, financial independence, and foreign investments in Pakistan.


Listen to the full panel here:


WISE Session on Digital Inclusion: Empowering Women & Communities

DRF’s legal team attended a session hosted by WISE (Women in Struggle For Empowerment) focusing on Digital Inclusion: Empowering Women & Communities, held on April 4th, 2024 in Lahore. During the session, team members shared invaluable insights regarding the FIA Complaint Mechanism, covering reporting procedures, the support offered to victims via the DRF helpline, and the pivotal role of legal frameworks in combating online harassment or abuse. Throughout the session, our team explored the crucial role of legal frameworks in tackling online harassment or abuse, delving into challenges across physical and online spaces, and reflecting on pertinent legislation such as the Prevention of Electronic Crimes Act, 2016 (‘PECA’). 


Digital Citizen Program in Government Schools

After the Ramadan break and final exams, DRF held two sessions in government high schools in Lahore. 357 students (females and males) and 9 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 306 complaints in total in April 2024, with 148 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.


Published by: Digital Rights Foundation in Newsletter

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