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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 https://www.nation.com.pk/10-May-2024/cyber-crisis
NOS Meta Supervisory Board: Instagram and Facebook censor Palestinians https://nos.nl/nieuwsuur/collectie/13903/artikel/2519918-toezichtraad-meta-instagram-en-facebook-censureren-palestijnen
Turkiye Newspaper Meta reveals censor allegations on Facebook, Instagram regarding Palestinian content https://www.turkiyenewspaper.com/world/22977
IRNA Facebook, Instagram censor pro-Palestinian content: Oversight Board https://en.irna.ir/news/85473681/Facebook-Instagram-censor-pro-Palestinian-content-Oversight
Aurora | Dawn The Dual Glass Ceiling https://aurora.dawn.com/news/1145113
Tribal News Network Federal Government Establishes National Cyber Crime Agency, Igniting Debate on Press Freedom https://tnnenglish.com/federal-government-establishes-national-cyber-crime-agency-igniting-debate-on-press-freedom
Dawn Confidential data leak to attract trial under Secrets Act https://www.dawn.com/news/1833374/confidential-data-leak-to-attract-trial-under-secrets-act
GTV Parenting In A Digital Age | What Are Kids Doing Online | G Utha Pakistan https://youtu.be/OOK8Ohi3uM8?feature=shared

 

Events:

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.

 

www.report.iwf.org.uk/pk 

 

StopNCII.org

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.

 

https://stopncii.org/

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: https://digitalrightsfoundation.pk/wp-content/uploads/2024/04/DRFs-Cyber-Harassment-Helpline-Report-2023.pdf

 

Press Coverage:

 

The Daily Spokesman Digital Rights Foundation releases Cyber Harassment Helpline report for 2023 https://dailyspokesman.net/live/digital-rights-foundation-releases-cyber-harassment-helpline-report-for-2023/
The Public Purview DRF released seventh annual Cyber Harassment Helpline Report https://thepublicpurview.com.pk/drf-released-seventh-annual-cyber-harassment-helpline-report/
The Reporters DRF Cyber Harassment Helpline Report: Rise in Online Violence https://thereporters.pk/drf-cyber-harassment-helpline-report-rise-in-online-violence/
Dawn Report notes use of AI for violence against women https://www.dawn.com/news/1825745/report-notes-use-of-ai-for-violence-against-women
The News Women largest victims of online harassment: DRF https://e.thenews.com.pk/detail?id=295991
The Friday Times AI Among Technologies Increasingly Used To Harass Women Online In Pakistan https://thefridaytimes.com/05-Apr-2024/ai-among-technologies-increasingly-used-to-harass-women-online-in-pakistan
Voice.pk Average of 206 harassment complaints each month: DRF Helpline Report ’23 https://voicepk.net/2024/04/average-of-206-harassment-complaints-each-month-drf-helpline-report-23/
Daily Dunya https://e.dunya.com.pk/detail.php?date=2024-04-06&edition=ISL&id=7190671_44683559
Times of Karachi DRF report highlights alarming rate of online harassment against women in Pakistan https://timesofkarachi.pk/article/drf-report-highlights-alarming-rate-of-online-harassment-against-women-in-pakistan/3189
India Blooms Pakistan witnessing surge in cases related to AI use in violence against women https://www.indiablooms.com/world-details/SA/42247/pakistan-witnessing-surge-in-cases-related-to-ai-use-in-violence-against-women.html

 

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:

https://digitalrightsfoundation.pk/wp-content/uploads/2024/04/DRF-Annual-Report-2023.pdf

 

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: https://www.instagram.com/reel/C6Ls5mHr3Eg/?igsh=cHY4Ymlqd3MwNHli

 

Press Coverage: 

 

Rolling Stone Fake Photos, Real Harm: AOC and the Fight Against AI Porn https://www.rollingstone.com/culture/culture-features/aoc-deepfake-ai-porn-personal-experience-defiance-act-1234998491/
Compiler Harm Reduction https://www.compiler.news/harm-reduction/
The Friday Times Pakistan's Misogynistic Lord Of The Flies https://thefridaytimes.com/07-Apr-2024/pakistan-s-misogynistic-lord-of-the-flies
The Express Tribune Harassment via AI https://tribune.com.pk/story/2462141/harassment-via-ai
Dawn ‘Women more prone to online hate speech’ https://www.dawn.com/news/1830295/women-more-prone-to-online-hate-speech
The Express Tribune Parliament, judiciary urged to protect rights https://tribune.com.pk/story/2464402/parliament-judiciary-urged-to-protect-rights
IFEX Journalists who ‘crossed the line’, digital repression, blasphemy prosecutions, and marriage equality bill https://ifex.org/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 https://thecurrent.pk/asma-jahangir-conference-receives-flak-for-expelling-pro-palestinian-protestors/

 

Events:

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: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=7UAWPAn3Kpw&t=3s

 

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: https://youtu.be/aMAdkriDHgw?feature=shared

 

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.

 

www.report.iwf.org.uk/pk 

 

StopNCII.org

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.

 

https://stopncii.org/

 

May 13, 2024 - Comments Off on DIGITAL RIGHTS FOUNDATION PUBLIC COMMENT ON OVERSIGHT BOARD CASE 2023-038-FB-MR (PAKISTANI PARLIAMENT SPEECH)

DIGITAL RIGHTS FOUNDATION PUBLIC COMMENT ON OVERSIGHT BOARD CASE 2023-038-FB-MR (PAKISTANI PARLIAMENT SPEECH)

Submission Author: Maryam Ali Khan
Submission Date: 23rd January, 2024

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, Meta should have taken down the video from Facebook in accordance with its Violence and Incitement Policy. The policy clearly stipulates that any content containing statements targeting individuals, other than private and high-risk persons with statements that advocated or called for violence, as well as statements containing aspirational or conditional calls to violence will be removed.

The statements made by the politician in the video were clearly inflammatory and violent especially when you look at them within the context of the country’s political history and how public hangings of influential figures, such as Zulfikar Ali Bhutto, have been manipulated by those in power to advance their agendas and propagate specific narratives - narratives that have had long term consequences on the political fabric of the country. When looking at posts and content such as this, it is also important to consider the role that state institutions such as the military and judiciary have played and continue to play in Pakistani politics. Pakistan has had a history of military managing or meddling with civilian state institutions. Free press and journalism have been relentlessly monitored and restricted during these periods of military rule, with censorship and intimidation being a regular occurrence. Journalists and citizens encounter a variety of problems, including threats of assault and harassment. Pakistan currently ranks 150th out of 180 nations in the 2023 World Press Freedom Index, indicating a striking deterioration in freedom of the press. As the country progresses, it is critical that authorities take relevant steps to ensure freedom of the press, especially due to the fact that no democracy can function efficiently without it.

As Pakistan approaches its upcoming general elections scheduled for February, familiar patterns seem to be repeating themselves. Censorship of the press and journalists has been ongoing before and after Imran Khan was ousted as the Prime Minister after a no-confidence motion in April 2022. There have been multiple riots by supporters of his party since then and the Pakistan Electronic Media Regulatory Authority (PEMRA), has increasingly censored media outlets and journalists who are critical of the state. Additionally, there have been multiple state-imposed internet shutdowns in an attempt to silence dissent and disrupt online political campaigning by certain political parties. Since May 2023, former prime minister Imran Khan has been in jail, and his party members are being severely restricted by authorities from freely contesting elections.

In Pakistan, social media and digital platforms have played a huge role in amplifying journalistic freedom. These platforms allow journalists and media organizations to quickly reach a much larger audience than was conventionally possible before. However, this has also meant that a lot of journalists and news agencies have been unable to maintain their standards of what content is “newsworthy”, and many times share content that is nothing but sensational, and is intended to bring in views - which is good for business. Journalists are pressured by media houses to report and sensationalize news, reflecting the severe absence of ethical journalism standards in the industry. We have also seen a shift in the industry where news reporting is no longer a monopoly maintained by journalists. Pakistan has seen an increasing trend of

‘Youtubers,’ ‘political commentators’, and ‘influencers’ spreading disinformation under the guise of news in the country.

The speech provided no useful information and led to more instability in the country leading up to the May 9th events in the country when riots broke out in cities after Imran Khan was ousted and military official buildings were attacked. What's more alarming is that this particular speech incited public opinion towards attacking public officials who can be in the guise of military officials, politicians, and any other official believed to be working for a political opponent other than the proclaimed party who made this statement.

When determining what kind of content should be allowed to stay up on social media platforms, content moderators should keep in mind these regional and political contexts. How certain content could escalate offline and online violence should especially be considered. Freedom of speech and freedom of the press can be achieved without having to resort to blatant violent speech. In content removal and guideline development, Meta should encourage governments to adhere to appropriate protocols for submitting content removal requests. The Pakistani government has had the capability to monitor and censor online material and has in the past issued draconian laws for social media platforms in February 2020, which allow them to erase “unlawful” information within 24 hours. These restrictions have been criticized for limiting freedom of expression and stifling dissent of users online. The 2016 Prevention of Electronic Crimes Act (PECA) also gives authorities powers to monitor and prohibit internet information. Therefore, it is essential that the government establishes a well-defined set of guidelines and protocols that prioritize human rights guiding principles and the freedom of the press. The justification for content removal should not be based on its opposition to the state or its advocacy for causes such as women's and trans rights - which are often misunderstood as ‘un Islamic,’ ‘immoral,’ ‘vulgar’ and ‘immodest.’

These steps will help in the democratization and de-escalation of political tensions both in online and offline platforms, while simultaneously improving the quality of journalism in the country.

*To the read the Oversight Board’s full decision on this case:

https://www.oversightboard.com/decision/fb-57spp63y/

**To read see all submitted Public Comments: https://www.oversightboard.com/news/

May 6, 2024 - Comments Off on DIGITAL RIGHTS FOUNDATION PUBLIC COMMENT ON OVERSIGHT BOARD CASE 2023-032-IG-UA (IRANIAN WOMAN CONFRONTED IN STREET)

DIGITAL RIGHTS FOUNDATION PUBLIC COMMENT ON OVERSIGHT BOARD CASE 2023-032-IG-UA (IRANIAN WOMAN CONFRONTED IN STREET)

Submission: Research Department, Digital Rights Foundation
Submission Date: 30th November, 2023

Meta’s classifiers failed to assess the relevant context and took too abrupt a decision in removing the post shared on Instagram. The shared video showed a man confronting a woman in public because she was not wearing a hijab. The woman whose face was visible in the video, was arrested following the incident. The accompanying Persian caption used descriptive language to express the user’s support for the woman in the video and all Iranian women standing up to the regime. As per Meta's assessment, the caption was construed as having an "intent to commit high severity violence," thereby violating its Violence and Incitement policy. The post was later restored to Instagram under the Coordinating Harm and Promoting Crime policy after the user appealed to Meta and it was decided that the post did not violate community standards. This policy outlined that users may be allowed to advocate and debate the legality of content that aimed to draw attention to harmful or criminal activity as long as they did not advocate for or coordinate harm. It also outlined that any content that put unveiled women at risk would require additional information and context.

It is important to note that this context was provided in the post if the classifiers were designed to assess the content in totality instead of processing the caption and media individually. The attack did not take place in a vacuum and was a byproduct of strict moral policing by the Iranian state. This was exacerbated by ongoing political unrest that had unfolded in September 2022 when Mahsa Amini was taken into custody by the morality police under accusations of observing ‘improper hijab’ - where she suspiciously died of a heart attack. This sparked nationwide protests, united by the chant: ‘Zan, Zendegi, Azadi’ (Woman, Life, freedom).

For the ‘Woman, Life, Freedom’ movement, social media and online platforms were paramount in the mobilization of protests and broadcasting of vital information. Videos and pictures from various protests in schools, universities, and streets were circulated which showed more and more women exercising their right to freedom of expression by appearing in public without their head coverings. Social media allowed the protesters a platform to get their message out into the world. A prominent Iranian actress, Taraneh Alidoosti, posted multiple pictures of herself without a headscarf on Instagram with the caption ‘Woman. Life. Freedom’. Women willfully

unveiling in public spaces quickly became a symbol of defiance against the morality police, and the regime. As expected, acts of defiance such as unveiling in public in a political and religious climate, such as Iran’s, comes with its own risks. Women and girls who have stepped out in public without a head covering have been arrested, beaten, and had items like yogurt dumped on their heads. Men have also been arrested and beaten for showing support for the cause. 

Additionally, the Iranian authorities resorted to unprecedented levels of internet shutdowns in an attempt to silence dissent and isolate the Iranian people from the world. According to Filter.watch, an Iran-focused internet monitor, Iran experienced internet blackouts for over four months either nationwide, or at a provincial level after Mahsa Aminis death. Moreover, the government enacted legislation that allowed the government to monitor and identify individuals based on their online activity. 

These measures are a part of the government's effort to curtail freedom of expression and access to the global online platform. A majority of Iranian users are either experiencing constant removal of their content or know at least one person who is being censored in the Persian language. The most common type of content that has been removed or shadowbanned are hashtags of human rights campaigns; comedians posting political satire; and activists organizations using chants like “death to Khamenei”. Persian language news organizations have also had their content removed simply for discussing political organizations. Most of the content posted on Meta is in languages other than English, with more than a hundred languages being used on Facebook. This needs to be taken into account when assembling contextual embeddings. Meta needs to improve its Natural Language Processing (NLP), scaling it across more languages. Systems that detect and remove policy-violating content should then be trained accordingly.

Access to safe and well regulated social media platforms are essential for socio-political movements, making it essential for Meta to review its content moderation according to multiple regional, cultural, and linguistic contexts. Prior to content removal based solely on the judgment of automated classifiers, Meta should prioritize training manual moderators in understanding relevant complications tied to online content. This approach would allow human moderators to assess both media content and their accompanying captions in accordance to contextual cues, allowing for a more nuanced and accurate decision making process compared to evaluating them separately. Social media users ought to have the freedom to share content expressing their support for a cause or condemning harmful regimes and beliefs. This should be permitted without Meta's classifiers flagging it as a violation, even in cases where the language used may be deemed 'offensive.' It is important to note that offensive language can be used in non-offensive contexts, and hate speech does not always contain offensive language.

 CNN, Leading Iranian actor posts picture without hijab in support of anti-government protests (CNN, 2022)

 AWID, Iran's Year of Defiance and Repression: How One Woman's Death Sparked a Nationwide Uprising (AWID, 2023) 

https://www.awid.org/news-and-analysis/irans-year-defiance-and-repression-how-one-womans-death-sparked-nationwide

 BBC NEWS, Iranian Women arrested for not covering hair after man attacks them with yogurt (BBC, 2023) 

https://www.bbc.com/news/world-middle-east-65150135

https://www.cnn.com/2022/11/10/middleeast/iran-taraneh-alidoosti-actor-hijab-intl

May 2, 2024 - Comments Off on The Erased 2024: Together against censorship

The Erased 2024: Together against censorship

On World Press Freedom Day we turn all eyes on the danger of censorship and the hundreds of imprisoned journalists worldwide by launching the ‘The Erased’ campaign. Most of the time, the stories of imprisoned journalists remain untold - because what is not published cannot be read. Now, we make them visible. Media outlets and organisations worldwide have joined Free Press Unlimited in making a stand against censorship.

In 2023, CPJ registered 320 imprisoned journalists worldwide. The Erased uses a unique font that links every single one of these 320 journalists to a censored word, and erases these words from participating (news) websites around the world. This symbolises the importance of free and independent journalism, and the danger of censorship: it takes away our right to know.

Journalists as targets

All over the world journalists face censorship while they attempt to publish about violations, to bring abuse of power to light, or to simply document what is happening in front of them. We see journalists becoming targets in conflicts. When we look at Palestine, all documented 17 arrests took place after 7 October 2023. For many of them the charges remain unknown. These journalists spoke about a war, suppression and bombing before being detained.

Top jailors

In Myanmar, where after the coup by the military democracy has crumbled, a staggering 43 journalists have been arrested in 2023. They wrote about injustice, violence, and disinformation. The top jailor is China, with 44 imprisoned journalists in 2023. A topic that is strictly censored is the pressing situation of the Uyghur people. Anything that relates to this is censored, from the name of the Xinjiang province that is home to this minority group, to the word concentration, following the accusations of the internment of Uyghurs and other Turkic Muslims in concentration camps.

Making stories visible

Besides making censorship visible, we also shine a light on the journalists that face arrest, assaults or imprisonment.

Each erased word symbolises a currently imprisoned journalist. As part of the campaign, people can click through to

‘The Erased’ website on which the erased words become visible, and where stories of journalists who faced imprisonment or legal threats are shared through in-depth interviews.

“Both I and the people around me were targeted by the government. It eventually forced me to go into exile. (...) My aim is to show everyone that giving up is not an option. As journalists, it is our duty to hold those in power accountable.” Solomon Amabo, Cameroon, one of the featured journalists

The unknown

Even though we do our best to make visible what is happening to journalists all over the world while they report the truth, there are always cases without faces, the unknown journalists who disappear without a trace. Therefore, these 320 erased words, those stories of imprisoned journalists we share, stand for all journalists who experience censorship by assault, arrest, or even death. They are risking their lives to bring abuse of power to light, and truth to the people.

We stand in solidarity and support. Now is the time to come together and fight against censorship. When journalists are silenced, we will raise our voice. Join us! Go the 'The Erased' website.

The Erase

April 17, 2024 - Comments Off on March 2024 Newsletter: Digital Rights Foundation attends the 3rd Summit for Democracy in Seoul, South Korea

March 2024 Newsletter: Digital Rights Foundation attends the 3rd Summit for Democracy in Seoul, South Korea

Digital Rights Foundation participated in Seoul for the 3rd Summit For Democracy  to bring Pakistan's perspective from the recent elections. The primary focus was on fostering democracy for future generations. Around 300 delegates including government officials, representatives from international organizations, academia, and civil society, gathered in Korea to discuss policy enhancements and strategic pathways to shape a better future for future generations.

In S4D3’s session 'Upholding Information Integrity Online to Reinforce Democracy and Human Rights' in Seoul, DRF's Senior Project Manager Hyra Basit, spoke about how Pakistan's 2024 General Elections highlighted the dark side of online discourse. DRF’s social media monitoring and intensive research during the election period were also highlighted. 

 

Policy Initiatives: 

International Women’s Day 2024

DRF’s team shared heartfelt stories about the remarkable women who have inspired them in celebration of International Women's Day 2024

             

In celebration of International Women’s Day, Privacy International sparked a meaningful dialogue that resonated deeply with us. They highlighted the remarkable women who are leading the charge in safeguarding privacy rights and fostering a more just world.

As part of this conversation, they asked the DRF team to share our reflections on the significance of privacy for women. It was an opportunity for us to explore and celebrate the unique perspectives and contributions of women in this vital field. Our comments are below: 

Maya Ki Kahani | 16 Days of Activism

DRF launched an animated video telling the story of Maya. Maya is a trans woman who works in a department store to make a living. Maya is constantly harassed at work because customers take her photos and videos without her consent. Maya's images are then used to mock her online and spread around the internet. Why is Maya being ridiculed online for simply doing her job? Is Maya being attacked online because of her identity? Does the law protect Maya from this type of abuse?

 

You can watch the entire video here: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=_i3VlCwgeq4

 

In the video, we aimed to educate the audience about important sections of the Prevention of Electronics Crimes Act (PECA) 2016 relating to Section 24 on taking pictures and videos without the consent of a natural person. The video also had information about section 20 of PECA around the dignity of a natural person and sharing content on social media containing false information and violating the privacy of a user.

 

DRF’s Cyber Harassment Helpline Guide

Have you or someone you know experienced any of the following?

 

  • Your personal or private picture was uploaded online without your consent
  • Your face was edited onto an inappropriate image
  • Your information, such as your picture, phone number, or home address, was shared online to harass you
  • A fake profile was created using your identity
  • Your Facebook, Instagram, or WhatsApp account was hacked

 

If your answer is yes, and you're in need of assistance, please contact the Cyber Harassment Helpline at 0800-39393, and find out how we can help you.

 

DRF’s WhatsApp Disinformation Tipline

During election days, memes, videos, posts, and messages circulate widely on social media. Mithu is conducting research and he needs your help. If you come across any content spreading false or misleading information, especially regarding female or transgender politicians, please share it with Mithu via WhatsApp.

 

To send a message, click on the WhatsApp button on our Instagram and Facebook profiles or go to this link: https://wa.me/923013249539

Alternatively, you can directly send a WhatsApp message to this number: 

0301 3249539

 

How to use ‘Ab Aur Nahin’

We launched a tutorial on how to use ‘Ab Aur Nahin’, DRF’s confidential legal and counselor support service specifically designed for survivors of harassment. You can easily access legal counsel and support tailored to your area through this user-friendly platform. 

Click, connect, and take charge of your rights today. You are not alone, and you do not need to fight alone!

 

You can access the website here: https://abaurnahin.pk/

 

Press Coverage: 

Nighat Dad on X shutdown on Geo News

DRF’s Executive Director Nighat Dad spoke with Geo News about the X shutdown in Pakistan. Nighat emphasized the importance of transparency in these actions, in accordance with international standards. And our local laws should address online disinformation and defamation without jeopardizing free speech. She went on to say that we need to work on improving existing laws as well as addressing the misuse of Generative AI right away.

 

Watch the entire interview here: https://web.facebook.com/watch/?v=302457409528246

 

A session with Suno FM Radio 89.4-96 ( Aao Bat Krain ) 

Anmol Sajjad delivered a virtual session on online harassment on 6th March 2024, with Suno FM Radio 89.4-96 with Bushra Iqbal. The session focused on online harassment in the digital era, and I also covered its legal aspects. It was focused on online harassment, its common forms, and its impact on physiological and social life. The prevention of online harassment and digital security was also discussed during the session. 

 

Watch the entire interview here: https://www.facebook.com/share/v/WQgDhT53gFvENRsG/?mibextid=qi2Omg

 

Nighat Dad speaks about the Resolution to Ban Social Media | Bol News

DRF's Executive Director, Nighat Dad spoke with Bol TV about the resolution in the Senate to ban social media in Pakistan. She expressed her frustration with this way of thinking and how these actions damage Pakistan's image on the international stage. She went on to say that a blanket ban on social media or even internet shutdowns will not stop online disinformation; instead, we must identify the root of the problem and address it structurally, as well as reform our society's thinking that allows people to cause harm through online platforms.

 

Watch the entire interview here: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=G2lmFfcTDgA

 

DRF in Press

 

Independent Urdu پاکستان میں سوشل میڈیا پر پابندی کی قرارداد ’آئین کا مذاق‘ https://www.independenturdu.com/node/162076
Dawn Amid X outage, ban sought on all social media https://www.dawn.com/news/1818607
Deccan Herald Pakistan Senate to take up resolution seeking permanent ban on social media sites https://www.deccanherald.com/world/pakistan-senate-to-take-up-resolution-seeking-permanent-ban-on-social-media-sites-2919832
Pi News Senator calls for total ban on social media sites in Pakistan https://proiqra.com/senator-calls-for-total-ban-on-social-media-sites-in-pakistan-pi-news/
The Nation Digital Regression https://www.nation.com.pk/04-Mar-2024/digital-regression
DND Civil Society voices concern on continued internet shutdowns & social media platform blocking in Pakistan https://dnd.com.pk/civil-society-voices-concern-on-continued-internet-shutdowns-social-media-platform-blocking-in-pakistan/312574
Arab News 28 civil society organizations demand immediate restoration of X in Pakistan https://www.arabnews.pk/node/2478066/pakistan
Context Pakistan's WhatsApp death sentence case spotlights blasphemy law https://www.context.news/digital-rights/pakistans-whatsapp-death-sentence-case-spotlights-blasphemy-law
Index on Censorship The journalists being threatened with artificial intelligence https://www.indexoncensorship.org/2024/03/the-journalists-being-threatened-with-artificial-intelligence/
Asia Network News X already banned when new government took over: Pakistan’s Information Minister https://asianews.network/x-already-banned-when-new-government-took-over-pakistans-information-minister/
Cryptopolitan Is AI Cyber Harassment Endangering Press Freedom in Pakistan? https://www.cryptopolitan.com/ai-cyber-harassment-press-freedom-pakistan/
Soch Fact Check Ataullah Tarar falsely claims X is not blocked in Pakistan https://www.sochfactcheck.com/ataullah-tarar-falsely-claims-x-is-not-blocked-in-pakistan/
Geo News Meta asked to end blanket ban of word 'shaheed' https://www.geo.tv/latest/536718-meta-asked-to-end-blanket-ban-of-word-shaheed
Global Village Space Meta's oversight board advises to lift ban on the word shaheed https://www.globalvillagespace.com/metas-oversight-board-advises-to-lift-ban-on-the-word-shaheed/
Pakistan Today Meta’s content moderation board advises company to loosen restrictions on word ‘shaheed’ https://www.pakistantoday.com.pk/2024/03/27/meta-board-responsible-for-content-moderation-advises-company-to-loosen-restrictions-on-word-shaheed/
Al Jazeera Meta’s oversight board urges Facebook, Instagram to lift ban on ‘shaheed’ https://www.aljazeera.com/news/2024/3/30/metas-oversight-board-urges-review-of-shaheed-censorship-policy

 

Events:

Synthetic Elections: are we prepared for generative AI in 2024? 

Organized by Demos and the UCL Digital Speech Lab, the event provided valuable perspectives on safeguarding democratic integrity amidst technological advancements. Nighat Dad shared her insights on navigating Generative AI in election cycles. The discussion centered around the impact of Generative AI, which has rapidly become a global concern. Policymakers, industry leaders, and the public convened to address the challenges posed by its exponential growth. Notable examples, such as AI-generated political audio and chatbot misinformation during elections, highlighted the urgency of the issue. She cautioned against overreacting to AI developments, emphasizing the need for balanced responses. 

 

Watch the entire discussion here: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=inaiJ6SJD08

 

Nighat Dad on a panel at HRC55 of UNHRC 

At #HRC55 of the United Nations Human Rights Council, Nighat Dad spoke on a panel ‘A Guiding Compass for the Global Digital Compact’ and she highlighted how human rights should be addressed in the framework of the Global Digital Compact. The Global Digital Compact is an initiative proposed in the United Nations Secretary-General António Guterres's Common Agenda. 

 

Read more here: https://www.un.org/techenvoy/

 

South and Southeast Asia Regional Stakeholders Forum on Cyber Sexual and Gender-Based Violence 

DRF also participated in the conference held by the Caught in the Web entitled ‘South and Southeast Asia Regional Stakeholders Forum on Cyber Sexual and Gender-Based Violence’ held in Colombo, Sri Lanka. During this, DRF’s Legal Manager, Irum Shujah, spoke in an “ Understanding the Perspective and Prospects of the Legal Sector” session and provided a Pakistani perspective to the participants. Overall Focus during the sessions was on sharing experiences, tools, lessons learned, and challenges of Civil Society Organizations (CSOs) engaged in addressing Cyber Sexual and Gender-Based Violence (CSGBV) and Online Gender-Based Harassment (OGHS) in South Asian countries, with a focus on discussing and disseminating these insights to facilitate learning and integration within their respective countries and across the region.

 

DRF at Global Partnership for Action on Gender-Based Online Harassment and Abuse’s Conference in Kenya

         

DRF also participated in the conference held by the Global Partnership entitled ‘Preventing and disrupting the spread of gendered disinformation in the context of electoral processes and democratic rollback’ held in Nairobi, Kenya. DRF’s participation provided the perspective on gendered disinformation used to target vulnerable identities including journalists, and the use of AI, the abuse of which was heightened during the recent elections, and what DRF is doing to counter such threats to safe online spaces and democratic processes. 

 

Legal Clinic (Live on Instagram)

DRF conducted a live legal clinic on Instagram, creating an interactive space for public engagement. Both the Legal team and Helpline team participated and addressed the queries shared by the audience through comments. The clinic primarily focused on the nature of cases received by the Helpline Team at DRF and the subsequent process of DRF’s legal team processing these cases. The live clinic catered to questions asked by the audience, ranging from ideas about handling evidence to a discussion about the form of online harassment faced by the public at large.

 

Digital Literacy sessions in schools

This month DRF held four schools in Lahore with their Digital Citizens program. 735 students (females and males) and 44 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.

 

A Session with Inspiring Women Pakistan 

DRF delivered a virtual session on 31st March 2024. The session focused on online harassment in the digital era, and we covered its legal aspects as well. There were a total of 30 participants in the session; 15 girls were from Pakistan, and 15 were from South America. We focused on online harassment, its common forms, and its impact on physiological and social life. The prevention of online harassment and digital security was also discussed during the session. 

 

A workshop on Perpetrator Data and Evaluating OGBV Tools

DRF attended an online session organized by the World Wide Web, focusing on Perpetrator Data and Evaluating OGBV Tools. The workshop centered on assessing the effectiveness of the emerging research roadmap in real-world scenarios and gathering feedback for refinement. 

 

International Conference on Transformative Potential of Generative Artificial Intelligence, Law and Legal Education

Minahil Farooq from DRF’s Legal team participated in a two-day International Conference on the Transformative Potential of Generative Artificial Intelligence, organized by the University of Central Punjab. The sessions delve into valuable insights at the intersection of Artificial Intelligence and Legal education. The conference's objective was to explore strategies for integrating AI into legal education, providing a comprehensive understanding of its transformative potential. 

 

Webinar on Navigating Gender Rights in the Judiciary in the Era of Artificial Intelligence
On 14 March 2024, DRF attended a webinar titled “Breaking Barriers: Navigating Gender Rights in the Judiciary in the Era of Artificial Intelligence” organized by National Law University Delhi, co hosted it with UNESCO and Lawyer's Hub on Artificial Intelligence in the Judiciary. In light of the rapid development of artificial intelligence (AI), this webinar included a panel discussion consisting of a retired senior judge, a policy analyst, and stakeholders from civil society. The webinar started with a discussion on the scope of AI, its role, and its implications within judicial systems. The discussion led to the European Ethical Charter for AI, highlighting its five core principles emphasizing respect for fundamental rights, non-discrimination, quality and security, transparency, impartiality, fairness, and user control. Insight was also provided about the inherent risks of AI-generated outcomes, particularly considering the situations when algorithms do not have adequate training, potentially leading to severe human rights violations. During the webinar, recommendations were also outlined, stressing the recognition of human biases in AI tools, understanding tool development purposes, maintaining system testing and feedback mechanisms, and promotion of awareness through training. 

 

DRF Updates: 

Cyber Harassment Helpline 

The Cyber Harassment Helpline received 317 complaints in total in March 2024. 50 of these complaints were about NCUI, or Non Consensual Use of Information, which may include images, name, phone number etc. Our helpline prioritizes helping women and transgender individuals. 

 

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.

 

www.report.iwf.org.uk/pk 

 

StopNCII.org

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.

 

https://stopncii.org/

April 5, 2024 - Comments Off on ڈیجیٹل رائٹس فاؤنڈیشن کی ہیلپ لائن پاکستان میں 2023 میں ٹیکنالوجی کی مدد سے جنسی بنیاد پر موجودہ واقعات (ٹی ایف جی بی وی) میں اضافہ دیکھ رہی ہے، تقریباً 2500 تک پہنچ گیا۔     

ڈیجیٹل رائٹس فاؤنڈیشن کی ہیلپ لائن پاکستان میں 2023 میں ٹیکنالوجی کی مدد سے جنسی بنیاد پر موجودہ واقعات (ٹی ایف جی بی وی) میں اضافہ دیکھ رہی ہے، تقریباً 2500 تک پہنچ گیا۔     

5 اپریل 2024

ڈیجیٹل رائٹس فاؤنڈیشن نے 2023 کے لیے اپنی ساتویں سالانہ سائبر ہراسمنٹ ہیلپ لائن رپورٹ جاری کی ہے۔ ہیلپ لائن نے دسمبر 2016 میں اپنے آغاز کے بعد سے آپریشن کے سات سال مکمل کیے ہیں اور اسے پاکستان بھر سے کل 16,849 شکایات موصول ہوئی ہیں۔ . صرف 2023 میں ہیلپ لائن پر کل 2473 نئی شکایات موصول ہوئیں جن میں ہر ماہ اوسطاً 206 نئی شکایات موصول ہوئیں اور فروری 2023 میں سال میں سب سے زیادہ شکایات موصول ہوئیں۔

ہیلپ لائن رپورٹ پیر سے اتوار، صبح 9 بجے سے شام 5 بجے تک ٹول فری نمبر، ای میل اور سوشل میڈیا پلیٹ فارمز کے ذریعے موصول ہونے والی شکایات کے اعداد و شمار کا مجموعہ ہے۔ یہ رپورٹ کیس اسٹڈیز ، ہیلپ لائن کال کرنے والوں کے تاثرات اور پالیسی سازوں اور قانون نافذ کرنے والے اداروں کے لیے سفارشات پر مشتمل ہے۔

سائبر ہراسمنٹ ہیلپ لائن خطے کی پہلی مخصوص ہیلپ لائن ہے جو ٹیکنالوجی کی مدد سے صنفی بنیاد پرآن لا ئن تشدد سے نمٹنے کے لیے  صنفی حساسایت کے ساتھ رازدارانہ اور مفت خدمات فراہم کرتا ہے۔ یہ قانونی مشورہ، ڈیجیٹل مدد، اور بنیادی نفسیاتی مدد فراہم کرتا ہے اور ایک مناسب ریفرل میکانزم پیش کرتا ہے۔ ہفتے کے آخر میں درخواستوں کی بڑھتی ہوئی تعداد کو پورا کرنے کے لیے ہیلپ لائن ہفتے میں 7 دن کام کرتی ہے۔

ڈیجیٹل رائٹس فاؤنڈیشن کی ایگزیکٹو ڈائریکٹر نگہت داد نے نوٹ کیا، "سال 2023 میں خواتین اور پسماندہ گروہوں کے خلاف ٹیکنالوجی کی مدد سے صنفی بنیاد پر‎ آن لائن تشدد سے متعلق شکایات میں نمایاں اضافہ ہوا ہے۔ تشدد کے یہ واقعات ان گروہوں کے لیے ممکنہ آف لائن تشدد میں اضافے کا باعث بھی بن رہے ہیں۔ ایک اور تشویشناک چیز جو ہم نے انتخابات کے قریب ہیلپ لائن کے ذریعے نوٹ کی وہ عوامی حلقوں میں خواتین کے خلاف اور خاص طور پر خواتین صحافیوں کے خلاف آن لائن تشدد کو بڑھاوا دینے کے لیے اے آئی (AI) جنریٹیو مواد کا استعمال تھی۔ یہ بڑھتی ہوئی تعداد تشویشناک ہے ۔اور یہ تعداد ظاہر کرتی ہے کہ کس طرح آن لائن جگہوں پر خواتین اور پسماندہ گروہوں کو شناخت کی بنیاد پرنشانہ بنایا جا رہا ہے۔ ملک کے اندر ریاستی اداروں کی مکمل حمایت کے ساتھ ٹیکنالوجی کی مدد سے صنفی بنیاد پر ‎ئن تشدد کا سامنا کرنے والے پسماندگان کے فوری ازالے اور تحفظ کی ضرورت ہے۔"

2023 میں خواتین آن لائن ہراسانی کا سب سے زیادہ شکار ہوئیں جو کہ ہیلپ لائن پرموصول ہونے والی 58.5 فیصد شکایت کنندگان ہیں۔ ہیلپ لائن نے یہ بھی نوٹ کیا کہ پچھلے سال کی طرح اس سال بھی ٹرانس جینڈر کمیونٹی کو ایک منظم آن لائن نفرت انگیز مہم کا نشانہ بنایا گیا اور یہ شکایات موصول ہونے والی شکایات کا تقریباً 1.6 فیصد ہیں۔ پچھلے سال کے اسی طرح کے حملوں کے نتائج کے باوجود سوشل میڈیا پلیٹ فارمز کے ردعمل اور اقدامات ایک جیسے رہے ہیں۔  ہیلپ لائن کی مینیجر، حرا باسط نے کہا کہ، "ا س سال، ہم نے دیکھا ہے کہ کس طرح ٹیکنالوجی کی مدد سے صنفی بنیاد پرآن لا‎ئن تشدد، غیر منظم ایپس کے ذریعے خواتین کی پرائیویسی کی خلاف ورزیوں کی بڑھتی ہوئی شکایات کے ساتھ ، اور غیر متفقہ مباشرت تصاویر بنانے کے لیے جدید ایڈیٹنگ اور جنریٹیواے آئی کے استعمال کے ساتھ، پچھلے برسوں کے مقابلے میں ذیادہ ہوا ہے۔"

رپورٹ میں مذید بتایا گیا ہے کہ 2023 میں سب سے زیادہ شکایات پنجاب (1724) سے موصول ہوئیں، اس کے بعد سندھ (261) اور کے پی (112) ہیں۔ ڈیٹا کی یہ جغرافیائی تقسیم قانون نافذ کرنے والے اداروں اور دیگر وسائل کی رسائی کی نقشہ سازی میں مدد کرے گی۔ ایف آئی اے، جو کہ پریوینشن الیکٹرانک کرائمز ایکٹ (PECA) کے تحت قانون نافذ کرنے والا نامزد ادارہ ہے، اس کے صرف 15 شہروں میں سائبر کرائم ونگز ہیں۔ جبکہ رپورٹیں ان کی ہیلپ لائن اور آن لائن شکایت فارم کے ذریعے جمع کرائی جا سکتی ہیں، متعدد شکایت کنندگان کے تاثرات سے پتہ چلتا ہے کہ یہ طریقے ناقابل اعتبار ہیں اور شکایت جمع کرانے کا سب سے موثر طریقہ ذاتی شکایات کے ذریعے ہے۔ مزید برآں، ہیلپ لائن کو کبھی کبھار پاکستان سے باہر کے لوگوں سے شکایات موصول ہوتی ہیں جن کی تعداد 2023 میں 58 تھی، اور یہ پاکستانی اور غیر پاکستانی شہریوں پر مشتمل ہے، جہاں

ایف آئی اے کے پاس مقدمہ درج کرنے کے لیے ملک کے اندر موجودگی یا نمائندگی کی کمی ایک مسئلہ ہو سکتی ہے۔

اس کےعلاوہ رپورٹ میں پالیسی سازوں اورقانون نافذ کرنے والے اداروں کے لیے ملک میں آن لائن ہراساں کیے جانے کے معاملات سے متعلق سفارشات کا ایک مجموعہ بھی شامل ہے۔  یہ رپورٹ پالیسی سازوں کے لیے تجویز کرتی ہے کہ سکولی نصاب میں ڈیجیٹل خواندگی اور آن لائن حفاظت کو ضم کرنے کے لیے سکولوں اور تعلیمی اداروں میں صنفی حساسیت کی ورکشاپس کا انعقاد کیا جائے۔ اس کے علاوہ خواتین کے لیے انٹرنیٹ اور ڈیوائس تک رسائی کی راہ میں حائل رکاوٹوں کو دور کرکے ڈیجیٹل صنفی تقسیم کو دور کرنے، قانون سازی کے لیے صنف سے متعلق سول سوسائٹی کی تنظیموں کے ساتھ تعاون کی سفارش کرتا ہے۔  ڈیجیٹل پرائیویسی اور تحفظ سے متعلق انسانی حقوق کے مطابق قانون سازی، اور ڈیجیٹل حقوق اور صنفی مساوات پر کام کرنے والی سول سوسائٹی کی تنظیموں کی مدد کرنا۔ قانون نافذ کرنے والے اداروں کے لیے سفارشات میں وسائل کی تقسیم میں اضافہ، غیر ملکی دائرہ اختیار میں مقدمات سے نمٹنے کے لیے طریقہ کار کا قیام، آن لائن شکایتی پورٹلز کی فعالیت کو بڑھانا، پولیس کے ساتھ ہم آہنگی کے لیے پروٹوکول تیار کرنا، سائبر ہراساں کیے جانے کے کیسز پر صنفی طور پر الگ الگ ڈیٹا اکٹھا کرنا، سائبر ہراسمنٹ کے لیے مخصوص ڈیسک کا قیام شامل ہیں۔ سائبر کرائم ونگز، برانچوں کے درمیان ہم آہنگی کو بہتر بنانا، متاثرین کے لیے نفسیاتی خدمات فراہم کرنا، کیس مینجمنٹ اور ٹریکنگ سسٹم کا نفاذ، تکنیکی مہارت کو بڑھانا، اور سائبر کرائم قانون، انٹرنیٹ گورننس، اور آن لائن ہراساں کرنے کے بارے میں ججوں کو تربیت فراہم کرنا تاکہ متعلقہ کیسوں کا مؤثر طریقے سے فیصلہ کرنے کی صلاحیت کو بہتر بنایا جا سکے۔

یجیٹل رائٹس فاؤنڈیشن پاکستان میں ایک رجسٹرڈ تحقیق پر مبنی این جی او ہے۔ 2012 میں قائم کیا گیا، ڈی آر ایف انسانی حقوق، جامعیت، جمہوری عمل، اور ڈیجیٹل گورننس کی حمایت کے لیے ICT پر توجہ مرکوز کرتا ہے۔ ڈی آر ایف آن لائن آزادانہ رائے دہی، رازداری، ڈیٹا کے تحفظ اور خواتین کے خلاف آن لائن تشدد کے مسائل پر کام کرتا ہے۔

 

 

 

 

 

For more information log on: www.digitalrightsfoundation.pk

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April 5, 2024 - Comments Off on Digital Rights Foundation’s Helpline Records Surge in cases of Technology-Facilitated Gender-Based Violence (TFGBV) in Pakistan reaching nearly 2500 in 2023

Digital Rights Foundation’s Helpline Records Surge in cases of Technology-Facilitated Gender-Based Violence (TFGBV) in Pakistan reaching nearly 2500 in 2023

April 5, 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.

 

The helpline report is a compilation of the data from complaints received by the Helpline through its toll-free number (0800-39393), email and DRF’s social media platforms from Monday to Sunday, 9 am to 5 pm. The report also contains case studies and feedback from Helpline callers and recommendations for policymakers and law enforcement agencies (LEAs).

 

The Cyber Harassment Helpline is the region's first dedicated helpline addressing tech-facilitated gender-based violence (TFGBV) with gender-sensitive, confidential and free services. It provides legal advice, digital assistance, and basic psychological assistance and offers a proper referral mechanism. The helpline operates 7 days a week to cater to a growing number of requests over the weekend.  Nighat Dad, Executive Director of DRF, noted, “There’s been a significant rise of complaints relating to technology-facilitated gender-based violence (TFGBV) against women and marginalized groups in the year 2023. These instances of violence are also leading to a rise in potential offline violence for these groups. Another alarming thing that we noted through the helpline near the elections was the use of generative AI content being used to exacerbate violence against women in the public sphere, particularly women journalists. These growing numbers are alarming and grow to show how online spaces are perpetuating identity-based attacks on women and marginalized groups. There is a need for urgent redressal and protection for survivors facing TFGBV with holistic support from state institutions within the country.”

 

In 2023 Women were the highest reported victims of online harassment constituting 58.5% of complainants. The Helpline also noted that like the previous year this year the transgender community was subjected to an orchestrated online hate campaign and these complaints made up to approximately 1.6% .. Despite last year’s findings of similar attacks, responses and actions taken by social media platforms have been the same. Hyra Basit, the helpline manager stated, ‘This year, we have seen how the manifestation of TFGBV has evolved over years, with rising complaints of incredible privacy violations of women via unregulated apps, and the use of modern editing and generative AI to produce non-consensual intimate images (NCII)'

 

Moreover, the report highlights that the highest number of complaints received in 2023 were from Punjab (1724), followed by Sindh (261) and KP (112). This geographical breakdown of data will help in mapping the accessibility of law enforcement agencies and other remedial resources. The FIA, which is the designated law enforcement agency under the Prevention of Electronic Crimes Act (PECA), has cybercrime wings in only 15 cities. While reports can be submitted through their helpline and online complaint form, feedback from multiple complainants shows that these methods are unreliable and the most efficient way to submit a complaint is through in-person complaints. Furthermore, the Helpline occasionally receives complaints from people outside Pakistan which was 58 in 2023, and comprised Pakistani and non-Pakistani citizens, where the lack of physical presence or representation within the country to file a case with the FIA can be a challenge.

 

Additionally, the report also includes a set of recommendations for policymakers and LEAs regarding online harassment cases in the country. For policymakers, it recommends collaboration with gender-specific civil society organizations for conducting gender sensitization workshops in schools and education institutions, integrating digital literacy and safety into school curriculums, addressing the digital gender divide by removing barriers to internet and device access for women, enacting human rights-compliant legislation on digital privacy and protection, and supporting civil society organizations working on digital rights and gender equality. Recommendations for law enforcement include increasing resource allocation, establishing mechanisms for handling cases in foreign jurisdictions, enhancing the functionality of online complaint portals, developing protocols for coordination with police, collecting gender-disaggregated data on cyber harassment cases, establishing dedicated desks for cyber harassment within cybercrime wings, improving coordination between branches, providing psychological services for victims, implementing a case management and tracking system, enhancing technical expertise, and providing training for judges on cybercrime law, internet governance, and online harassment to improve their ability to adjudicate related cases effectively.

Digital Rights Foundation is a registered research-based NGO in Pakistan. Founded in 2012, DRF focuses on ICTs to support human rights, inclusiveness, democratic processes, and digital governance. DRF works on issues of online free speech, privacy, data protection and online violence against women.

 

For more information log on: www.digitalrightsfoundation.pk

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March 20, 2024 - Comments Off on Digital rights foundation public comment on oversight board case: politician’s comments on demographic changes

Digital rights foundation public comment on oversight board case: politician’s comments on demographic changes

Submission Author: Abdullah b. Tariq
Submission Date(s): 12 December 2023

The case is about a French politician, Zemmour, providing a commentary on French demographic changes. The post was shared on Eric Zemmour’s Facebook page by his administrator, in which during an interview Zemmour passed remarks on demographic changes and shift in power balance in Europe, further going on to say that this change in demography has led to Africa colonizing Europe. Zemmour in the past has crossed paths with the European justice system, where he was criticized for “inciting discrimination and religious hatred” in France. On a careful analysis of the current political discourse in Europe and the case's contents, we conclude that the case violates Meta’s hate speech policy under the TIER 3 categorization. The comment not only talks about the immigration policies but also about a broader generalization of Africans in Europe. The post echoes “The Great Replacement”(Le Grand Remplacement) theory. The idea propagated by French author Renaud Camus, promotes violence and hatred by framing the presence of non-white populations, particularly from Muslim-majority countries, as a threat to the ethnic French and white European populations. While Camus publicly condemns white nationalist violence, scholars argue that “implicit calls to violence” are present in his depiction of non-white migrants “as an existential threat”. The theory has been linked to several far-right terrorist acts, including the Christchurch mosque shootings and the El Paso shooting. The theory found support in Europe and has grown popular among anti-migrant and white nationalist movements, with its broader appeal attributed to simple catch-all slogans.  More so than a commentary on immigration policies, the post furthers an existing civil division. Thus, it would be fair to categorize the post's contents in TIER 3 of hate speech. Moreover, the post also includes traces of misinformation and misleading content, which also falls under Meta’s content moderation policy on misinformation.

When provided with contextual information, the statement in question befits the broader conspiracy dialogue in France regarding the Great Replacement. Zemmour has vigorously defended “The Great Replacement”(Le Grand Remplacement) conspiracy. The concept, echoed by the far-right groups in Europe, elucidates that the white population of Europe is being demographically replaced. The sentence “...there are four Africans for one European and Africa colonizes Europe…” tries to induce the elements of segregation and dissent against the wider African diaspora within Europe. Moreover, this ideology has previously been used as the justification by white supremacists to carry out mass shootings in the US and New Zealand – bringing attention to the global relevance and repercussions of such a narrative. Not to mention, that the argument used to infer this claim is equally misleading. Using the correlation of demographics to infer the causation of colonization is a misleading argument and fuels conspiracy amongst the general populace. Additionally, using the term colonization induces a power hierarchy among the demographic segments, which does not exist in the context the Politician is framing it.

Zemmour’s comment, although generally highlighting the demographic analysis of two separate periods of two separate continents, the addition of “...Africa colonizes Europe…” creates a false correlation between demography and colonization. In that context, Zemmour is using false information to target a race and nationality – which goes directly against Meta’s policy against misinformation and hate speech on its platform. Such misinformation poses a danger to European democracies, as intimidation and manipulative narratives further jeopardize the broader political discourse on immigration policies and democratic elections in Europe. 

Such conspiracies not only otherize a whole population segment but also induce hate and fear among the white European population. The statement “...Africa colonizes Europe…” serves as an identifier where Zemmour insinuates that African immigrants living in Europe are the colonizers. Creating a distinction of European citizens from European Citizens of African descent is highly exclusionary and discriminatory based on race and nationality. Moreover, such extreme claims about reverse colonization because of demographic changes take attention away from arguments that are of legitimate concern for most of Europe in current times. Commentary and criticism of immigration policies are healthy discussion topics that should not be restricted in our digital spaces. However, developing well-informed policies becomes a target of manipulated truth when this discourse enters the realm of conspiracies and misinformation. In that instance, it is equally essential to ensure that the wider population, especially protected groups, is kept safe in offline and online spaces. Meta needs to ensure, especially through election periods, that the bogus and conspiratorial claims are identified and marked on their platforms. Until the platform figures out a way to efficiently and effectively include detailed contextual embeddings within their algorithms, there needs to be increased human review of such reports. There are limited laws against the involvement of AI in online political discourses; therefore, as a multi-billion-user company, the responsibility falls on Meta to do its part in ensuring the minimal impact of such automated models on human discourse development.

Zemmour’s comment on demographic changes can not be viewed in isolation, considering his influence on the political discourse in France. The claim of a shift in power and explicit mention of the word “Africans'' targets and alienates the non-white population of Europe. The contextual underpinnings of general anti-migrant discourse in Europe and a lack of non-white voices hint towards the more significant issue of discrimination against groups falling within the protected characteristics. In such an environment, Meta must ensure their platform does not feed into discriminatory practices. Politicians worldwide have massive followings in online spaces and utilize these platforms to address a more comprehensive voting class. However, their followers are primarily the members of society who are already in alignment with the politicians’ political ideologies – as made evident through the response to Eric Zemmour’s post. This creates an echo chamber within the platform where the ideologies propagate and expand without much resistance. A lack of accountability in such situations could birth hostile and harmful narratives. Therefore, it is paramount that Meta ensures much more careful monitoring of what is being propagated in these echo chambers. Although identifying and removing hateful content online is essential, it is equally, if not more important, to evaluate the impact of such content. There should be higher sensitivity in the content moderation policies when evaluating content with a higher influence on the general public. 

The case’s contextual review shows how the post discriminates against a protected group through misleading, fear-mongering narratives and exclusion. The alienation of a non-white demographic segment through Zemmour’s comments exacerbates the ongoing discourse around migration laws. In such situations, Meta needs to ensure that it can identify and differentiate between political commentary and targeting of specific segments of the society (“Africans”) through misinformation and hate speech. Meta in its hate speech policy allows for “commentary and criticism of immigration policies”; however, this exception does not apply to this case. Conspiracy theories and discriminatory speech falls under the the categorization of hate speech; thus a spade should be called a spade and dealt as such. Providing safe spaces for conspiracies and hateful narratives to grow under the guise of political commentary could have a detrimental impact on the democratic values of European people, as well as discriminate and further create a divide among the civilian population. Thus, a more rigorous understanding of the context within different echo chambers and political spheres should be developed by the reviewers of such claims. On such a basis, TIER 3 of Meta’s hate speech policy should take into account the repercussions of specific comments on immigration policies and how they promote segregation and exclusion of protected groups.

March 15, 2024 - Comments Off on February 2024 Newsletter: Nighat Dad at the Munich Security Conference

February 2024 Newsletter: Nighat Dad at the Munich Security Conference

Nighat Dad shared her insights at the Munich Security Conference (MSC) alongside Google CEO Sundar Pichai and former President of Estonia Kersti Kaljulaid, moderated by Ian Bremmer, delving into the crucial intersection of geopolitics, AI, and electoral integrity.

She highlighted AI's broader societal impact, including inclusivity and human rights, beyond mere technology. While Western regulations are crucial, they may not address global challenges adequately. The Global South's voice gained recognition through the UN's High-Level Panel on AI. Nighat urged platforms to increase resources for human rights and transparency. Empowering researchers and reassessing governance are essential for fair AI. She emphasized integrating human rights into AI security discussions and promoting transparency. Finally, she called for civil society involvement and anchored regulations in human rights for effective AI ethics.

Policy Initiatives:

DRF Election Desk

Digital Rights Foundation launched its Election Desk. It is a mapping project to document instances of network shutdowns and infringements on free speech via the targeted closure of specific social media sites and access to the internet overall. It consolidated all the latest resources and showcased the legal analysis of different parties’ manifestos in relation to digital rights. This endeavor seeks to uphold democratic values and ensure a transparent and open dialogue during such critical events.

For more: https://election2024.digitalrightsfoundation.pk/

Legal Framework for Financing Election Campaigns in Pakistan

In Pakistan, the Election Commission of Pakistan (ECP) is responsible for overseeing election processes, including campaign financing. The legal framework for campaign financing is primarily governed by the Election Act of 2017. This Act sets limits on election campaign expenditures by candidates. It requires candidates to keep detailed accounts of their campaign expenses and submit these accounts to the ECP.

Important note: Section 132 does not explicitly differentiate between offline and online election activities, and the provision can be broadly interpreted to cover both offline and online campaign financing.

Accountability around Political Ads on social media platforms of Pakistani Political Actors leading to elections

The regulation of online and social media campaign financing is a relatively new and evolving area. While entities like Meta have implemented their own policies for political advertising, including background checks and transparency requirements in various countries, the ECP's policies do not explicitly address the specifics of online campaign financing or the regulation of political ads on social media networks.

Meta has made their ad library public and you can view the spending for political ads on DRF’s Election Desk website: https://election2024.digitalrightsfoundation.pk/meta-political-ads-list/

What to do on polling day?

DRF Election Desk brought people a guideline on what to do on election day - especially for first time voters the day before Pakistan’s General Elections.

  1. Check your polling station
  2. Go early
  3. Bring your original CNIC
  4. Main order and queue

 

 

Difference between our Cyber Harassment Helpline and WhatsApp Disinformation Tipline

DRF’s Network of Women Journalists for Digital Rights (NWJDR) condemned the use of TFGBV and Gen AI to attack and silence women journalists

More than 60 journalists signed Network of Women Journalists for Digital Rights (NWDJR)'s statement condemning the use of technology-facilitated gender-based violence (TFGBV) and Generative AI to attack and silence women journalists.

Read the full statement here: https://digitalrightsfoundation.pk/nwjdr-condemns-the-use-of-technology-facilitated-gender-based-violence-tfgbv-and-generative-ai-to-attack-and-silence-women-journalists/

WhatsApp Hacking Awareness Video

DRF has observed a spike in WhatsApp accounts getting hacked.  We shared an instructional video on how to avoid it.

You can watch it here: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=dUgEpJfX8oU

Press Coverage:

How the Digital Rights Foundation Fights for Privacy and Better Internet Governance

Nighat Dad talked to XMTP and her insights offered an essential perspective on the role open and decentralized protocols play in countering the prevalent centralized models of data collection and ownership.

Read more: https://blog.xmtp.com/digital-rights-foundation/

Important Analysis of Nighat Dad on Legality of the Decision in Iddat Case

Nighat Dad spoke to Dawn News as a member of WAF (Women Action Forum) about the Iddat case and provided critical legal analysis.

More here: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=mrRD7weX9oE

Nighat spoke to DW Urdu about Pakistan’s General Elections and Internet shutdown

Nighat Dad spoke to DW Urdu and talked about how the use of the internet is also done to obtain information, so the shutdown of mobile and internet services on the day of general elections in Pakistan is a violation of the democratic and fundamental rights of citizens.

Watch here: https://x.com/dw_urdu/status/1758892312850001938?s=20

In this opinion piece, Nighat Dad discusses the prevalence of internet shutdowns during election cycles in Pakistan, highlighting their detrimental impact on society and the economy. She emphasizes how shutdowns hinder access to crucial information, disrupt economic activities, and impede democratic processes. Additionally, Nighat argues that internet shutdowns exacerbate tensions, restrict freedom of expression, and undermine trust in the democratic system. She calls for the government to refrain from shutting down the internet during elections, stressing the importance of maintaining an open and free internet for democratic participation and accountability.

More here:

https://www.thenews.com.pk/print/1155503-the-net-must-go-on
https://www.geo.tv/latest/530386-the-net-must-go-on

Digital Campaigns

DRF’s Executive Director, Nighat Dad, penned an opinion piece where she talks about the lack of regulation and oversight by Election Commission of Pakistan on online political advertising.

Read here: https://www.thenews.com.pk/print/1155205-digital-campaigns

Data Privacy: Elections and Beyond

Zainab Durrani discusses the impact of technology on Pakistan's 2024 elections, highlighting concerns about deepfake disinformation and the use of voter data. She points out the lack of a national data protection framework, raising questions about the source and misuse of voter contact information. Durrani emphasizes the vulnerability of citizen data held by entities like NADRA and telecom providers, with documented breaches compromising privacy. She calls for amendments to proposed data protection laws and stresses the need for accountability in political campaigning practices. Additionally, she criticizes outdated election laws for failing to address digital campaigning methods, underscoring the importance of protecting privacy in democratic governance.

Read here: https://thefridaytimes.com/08-Feb-2024/data-privacy-elections-and-beyond

DRF in the Press
The Friday Times Pakistan's Network Of Women Journalists For Digital Rights Demand Accountability And Support For Domestic https://thefridaytimes.com/01-Feb-2024/pakistan-s-network-of-women-journalists-for-digital-rights-demand-accountability-and-support-for-domestic-violence-victims
Medium Chapter I — How to prevent sexting abuse on WhatsApp in Pakistan? https://medium.com/digital-narratives/chapter-i-how-to-prevent-sexting-abuse-on-whatsapp-in-pakistan-76c8c3360d18
Deccan Herald Feminists, women lawyers lash out at Pakistan judge for hurting woman's dignity in marriage case verdict https://www.deccanherald.com/world/feminists-women-lawyers-lash-out-at-pakistan-judge-for-hurting-womans-dignity-in-marriage-case-verdict-2879037
Ifex What’s new and old in 2024: Repressive laws, attacks, and election disinformation in Asia https://ifex.org/whats-new-and-old-in-2024-repressive-laws-attacks-and-election-disinformation-in-asia/
The Current The ever-looming threat of disinformation in Pakistan https://thecurrent.pk/the-ever-looming-threat-of-disinformation-in-pakistan/
France24 Pakistan suspends mobile service for election day https://www.france24.com/en/live-news/20240208-pakistan-suspends-mobile-service-for-election-day
Samaa TV HRCP demands immediate restoration of internet, mobile services across country https://www.samaa.tv/208739477-hrcp-demands-immediate-restoration-of-internet-mobile-services-across-country
Barron's Pakistan Counts Ballots With Khan In Jail, Vote Marred By Mobile Outage https://www.barrons.com/news/pakistan-counts-ballots-with-khan-in-jail-vote-marred-by-mobile-outage-bf732a4f
Voice.pk NWJDR Condemns Online Attacks On Women Journalists In Pakistan https://voicepk.net/2024/02/nwjdr-condemns-online-attacks-on-women-journalists-in-pakistan/
The Friday Times Technology-facilitated Gender-based Violence And Generative AI Used To Abuse Women Journalists https://thefridaytimes.com/13-Feb-2024/technology-facilitated-gender-based-violence-and-generative-ai-used-to-abuse-women-journalists
Dawn Online attacks on women journalists condemned https://www.dawn.com/news/1814045
IFEX Pakistan Press Foundation condemns smear campaign against journalists in post-election turmoil https://ifex.org/pakistan-press-foundation-condemns-smear-campaign-against-journalists-in-post-election-turmoil/
ERR Kaljulaid in Munich: EU's AI legal act best for global governance, minus fines https://news.err.ee/1609256442/kaljulaid-in-munich-eu-s-ai-legal-act-best-for-global-governance-minus-fines
Voice.pk Speculation Abounds As X Suspension In Pakistan Enters Third Day https://voicepk.net/2024/02/speculation-abounds-as-x-suspension-in-pakistan-enters-third-day/
Dawn X faces disruption for third consecutive day https://www.dawn.com/news/1815628/x-faces-disruption-for-third-consecutive-day
Express Tribune X becomes govt's first target https://tribune.com.pk/story/2457017/x-becomes-govts-first-target
Global Village Space X faces a nationwide shutdown amid political turmoil - Global Village Space https://www.globalvillagespace.com/x-faces-a-nationwide-shutdown-amid-political-turmoil/
The News International X access restricted in Pakistan for seventh day https://www.thenews.com.pk/latest/1161174-x-access-restricted-in-pakistan-for-seventh-day
The News International X shutdown enters 7th day in Pakistan https://www.thenews.com.pk/print/1161365-x-shutdown-enters-7th-day-in-pakistan
Geo News X shutdown enters 8th day in Pakistan with VPN services also restricted https://www.geo.tv/latest/532447-x-shutdown-enters-7th-day-in-pakistan-with-vpn-services-also-restricted
Times of India Social media platform 'X' shutdown continues for eighth day .. https://timesofindia.indiatimes.com/world/pakistan/social-media-platform-x-shutdown-continues-for-eighth-day-in-pakistan/articleshow/107983076.cms
Arab News Rights activists say free speech ‘critically under threat’ in Pakistan as X disruption enters eighth day https://www.arabnews.com/node/2466301/amp
Bolly Inside Social Media Platform X Shutdown Continues for Eighth Day in Pakistan, Users Face Blackout https://www.bollyinside.com/news/world-news/social-media-platform-x-shutdown-continues-for-eighth-day-in-pakistan-users-face-blackout/
ANI Pakistan: Social media platform 'X' shutdown continues for eighth day https://www.aninews.in/news/world/asia/pakistan-social-media-platform-x-shutdown-continues-for-eighth-day20240225131731/
Voice.pk Civil Society Condemns Ichhra Incident https://voicepk.net/2024/02/civil-society-condemns-ichhra-incident/
KTN News HD Violence in the Digital World | Insight with Najia Mir https://www.youtube.com/watch?si=ZXJWXcFpZDIuHqCr&v=sbqe57fGqqA&feature=youtu.be

Events:

Global Symposium Technology Facilitated Gender Based Violence

DRF actively participated in this year’s virtual Global Symposium hosted by the UNFPA. On Day 1, Nighat Dad set the scene during Panel 1.1 ‘Now and the Future’, where she spoke about the regulatory gaps and challenges in addressing the intersection of artificial intelligence and online abuse, the lack of effective legal responses to the rise in the TFGBV, and the role that social media and tech platforms need to play in combating TFGBV. On Day 2, Hyra Basit was on the panel entitled ‘Responding to TFGBV’ where she highlighted the Cyber Harassment’s journey, its successes, and challenges.

Watch the entire panel here: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=k6oLod78fTc

Striking the Right Balance: Moderating Online Content During 2024 Elections

The session explored important topics like misinformation, foreign interference, targeted advertising, and the role of algorithms in shaping user attitudes and behaviors. Nighat shared her insight about how with social media's influence on public opinion and elections worldwide, it is crucial to understand how to effectively manage these platforms for fairness and transparency in electoral processes.

Nighat Dad speaking at MobilinkHer Event

DRF’s Executive Director, Nighat Dad, shared her thoughts on #MobilinkHER - during Mobilink Bank's flagship women returnship program launch. She talked about the importance of creating a supportive & inclusive work environment that enables women to foster holistic economic development and bolster Pakistan’s economy.

APAC regional conversation and consultation

DRF briefed the Global Coalition for Tech Justice partners regarding the elections held on 8th February and around the findings of DRF’s election desk cell on the 21st of February. The consultation was DRF’s attempt to share best practices with partners around monitoring content on platforms in this election year of 2024.

Navigating Online Harms and Gendered Disinformation in Pakistan


DRF conducted a session at LUMS with the Saida Waheed Gender Initiative (SWGI) on  Navigating Online Harms and Gendered Disinformation in Pakistan. The session was facilitated by Seerat Khan and Danish Umar. DRF’s team went over the proliferation of gendered disinformation and how it contributes to the exacerbation of gender-based violence. The team also shared ways in which students can protect themselves online. and spot generative AI content.

 

Source Verification and Fact-checking workshop for Journalists during Elections held in Islamabad

DRF conducted a session on source verification and fact-checking in Islamabad with Meta's support, keeping in mind the upcoming general elections. The one day workshop addressed the emergence of disinformation and misinformation during elections and how to tackle and report dis/misinformation during this time and was attended by 31 journalists from Islamabad and adjacent areas.

Digital Literacy sessions in schools

This month DRF held four schools in Lahore with their Digital Citizens program. 735 students (females and males) and 44 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.

Session:  Introducing all feminist Helplines

Anmol and Hyra participated in an online session on 29 Feb 2024, focused on introducing all the feminist helplines within their community. The session provided a platform for various helplines to present their work, emphasizing their roles in addressing gender-based violence. We have discussed and delved into the specifics of how helplines operate, including the processes involved in providing support and assistance to individuals facing gender-based violence. The session aimed to foster collaboration and mutual understanding among the different helplines, ultimately enhancing their collective efforts in combating gender-based violence within the community.

DRF Updates:

Cyber Harassment Helpline

The Cyber Harassment Helpline received 236, with 118 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.

 

 

www.report.iwf.org.uk/pk

StopNCII.org

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.

https://stopncii.org/