August 28, 2019 - Comments Off on Women In Journalism

Women In Journalism

So it is a well-known fact that journalism isn’t the safest option one can choose. A journalist exposes his/her views to the public, thus exposing a part of themselves. Be it a small scale freelance journalist or a major famous journalist, these polarizing opinions produce differing opinions and fuel arguments. Of-course there are people who argue rationally, respecting other opinions but the problem occurs when respect is thrown out of the window. When journalists’ online presence threatens their very existence. The word ‘existence’ here can unfortunately be used both generally and specifically.

Specifically, when most of these journalists holding unorthodox views present their views over a medium, they almost always have to face serious threats to themselves and their loved ones. The threats range from cyber-bullying, cyberstalking, cyber-harassment and public shaming to murder threats and enforced disappearances. From 2012 to 2016, UNESCO reported the killing of 530 journalists, two per week. Unsurprisingly, 56% of these deaths happened in developing countries or countries experiencing military conflicts. Unfortunate examples like that of Jamal Khashoggi show us that the growth of internet has done no favor to the status quo. The Fifth Domain has just provided another medium for these threats to circulate through, effectively worsening the situation. 

Having taken a look at all of these issues, it will still not be unreasonable to suggest that being a woman in journalism is a completely different ball game. Obviously all the issues presented above still affect women that are present in the journalism industry. In that essence, I guess calling the situation of women a completely “different” ball game might not entirely be true. A better explanation could be that women face all the issues men have to go through and more. 

While men are criticized, threatened or attacked due to their beliefs, most of the time women don’t even get the luxury of having their opinions conveyed. Even at a platform where their voices are broadcasted, they are shunned for things completely unrelated to their journalistic abilities. Comments about their appearance, their clothes, the way they speak and the amount of make-up they wear (or don’t wear). Similarly, the threats made to women are much more severe and appalling, ranging from sexual harassment to rape threats. Women are called “whores” and threatened to be paraded naked in the streets as a “walk of shame” over the internet. In certain instances, the faces of these journalists are copied on to explicit and sometimes even pornographic images and shared around the internet as memes. The issue, however, will only get worse with the improvement in technology. The above mentioned problem has been made worse with the use of deep-fake technology, creating fake compromising videos which are becoming more and more believable every passing day. 

This campaign of character assassination is possible because of the idea that women are “easy targets”. From the very beginning, the society believes that women have to be non-confrontational, that they have to be passive, that they have to stay neutral to harassment. This difference between problems faced by men and the problems faced by women exist, and it is accompanied with tragic outcomes that usually involve violence against women and deterioration of physical and mental health of women.

The day criticism on both sides of the gender scale is homogenous, would be a day of incredible celebrations and joy.

Generally, however, these issues affect journalism on a whole. Women for these reasons have stopped covering or presenting their opinions on the internet. It has narrowed the scope of intellectual discussion. In many senses, journalism is what’s supposed to take a society forward. To provide a society new topics to debate over. To bring up ideas that haven’t been talked about before and spark up discussion, inviting opinions and getting through to the public. Journalism is not only supposed to spark a debate amongst the educated, but also educate the uneducated. All of this stops when we as a society stop inviting opinions. It stops when women are harassed on and off the internet for presenting their opinions, even worse, for just being a woman.   

Soon

Mohammad Owais Sabri is an Alevels student at LACAS

August 28, 2019 - Comments Off on 66 women’s rights, human rights, digital rights and feminists groups endorse statement on internet blackout in Kashmir

66 women’s rights, human rights, digital rights and feminists groups endorse statement on internet blackout in Kashmir

We, a coalition of 66 women's rights, human rights, digital rights and feminists groups, condemn in the strongest possible terms the blatant violation of the right to freedom of expression, access to information, movement and peaceful assembly by the Indian government through a blanket network and internet shutdown in Jammu and Kashmir since the evening of August 4, 2019. We believe that access to communication networks, including the internet, is a fundamental human right and the current media blackout is tantamount to silencing the voices of millions of residents in Jammu and Kashmir.

We recognise that the current situation is not an aberration, it is rather part of a systematic effort by the BJP-led government to silence and exclude dissent from the region: the current internet and network shutdown is part of larger pattern of regular shutdowns in the disputed region; in 2019 alone 51 internet shutdowns have been imposed in Jammu and Kashmir. The right to access communication networks is an important prerequisite to the exercise to other democratic and fundamental rights, the people of Jammu and Kashmir have been systematically denied these rights.

It worries us that the latest shutdown has been expanded to block all communication, landline phones and cable TV in addition to the internet. Since August 4, 2019 there has been a complete media blackout on information inside and outside the conflict-ridden valley, in violation of Article 19 of the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights (ICCPR), which has been ratified by India:

“Everyone shall have the right to freedom of expression; this right shall include freedom to seek, receive and impart information and ideas of all kinds, regardless of frontiers, either orally, in writing or in print, in the form of art, or through any other media of his choice.”

The humanitarian impact of this blackout is palatable as family members have been unable to reach their loved ones inside Jammu and Kashmir. Freedom of movement has also severely restricted as curfew imposed under section 144 to stop movement during the day. These restrictions have thwarted the access basic services such as emergency medical care--the human cost of this blackout is immeasurable. Businesses in the region have suffered irreparable losses, devastating the local economy. 5,000 arrests have been made in a clampdown since the communications blackout started.

This communication blackout has been instrumentalized to remove a provision (Article 370) of the Indian Constitution that directly impacts the autonomy of the people of Jammu and Kashmir. We are extremely concerned that the pairing of the blackout with the passage of the constitutional amendment points towards a dangerous and draconian approach to democratic decision-making--the people of region cannot express their opinions regarding the decision and possibly have no way of knowing that the legal status of their home has drastically changed. We believe that communication networks during times of conflict and political turmoil are important to prevent further human rights violations and arbitrary measures. Given the excesses of the Indian army in the past, the lack of information and reporting from the region is extremely concerning.

We also condemn the uneven application of community guidelines and content regulation by social media companies such as Twitter to silence users critiquing the official narrative of the Modi-led Indian government and amplifying the voices of Kashmiris on the ground. According to estimates, more than 200 Twitter accounts have been suspended for posting about Kashmir. Furthermore notices have been sent to Twitter users for allegedly “violating the laws of India”. At a time when voices of people from the region are being systematically excluded, these suspensions and notices amount to gross negligence on the part of social media companies.

The United Nations has termed this communications blackout as “unprecedented”, “disproportionate” and constituting “collective punishment”. David Kaye, the UN’s special rapporteur on freedom of expression, stated: “I can’t recall a situation where there has been a total blackout of not only the two-way, multi-point communication systems that we are familiar with now – anything on the internet, WhatsApp etc – but also the one-direction communications like TV”.

We urge that urgent and strict action be taken by the international community to address the international law violations. We demand that the blanket ban on communication network be lifted with immediate effect. We stand in solidarity with the people of Jammu and Kashmir in their legitimate struggle for the right to determination.

August 28, 2019

Signatories:

Asma Jahangir Legal Aid Cell (AGHS) 
ASR Resource Centre 
Association for Behavior and Knowledge Transformation (ABKT) 
Aurat Foundation
Aurat Haq
Aurat March Karachi
Aurat March Lahore
AwazFoundationPakistan: Centre for Development Services 
Baidarie 
Balochistan Media Association
Beaconhouse National University Feminist Community
Bolo Bhi, Pakistan
Bonded Labour Liberation Front (BLLF) 
Center for Artificial Intelligence
Center for Cyber Security Pakistan 
Center for Cyber Security Pakistan 
Centre for Social Justice 
Channan 
Christian Muslim Peace 
Combine FiOS
Courting the Law, Pakistan
Damen Support Programme
DCHD 
Digital Rights Foundation (DRF), Pakistan
Farmers Development Organization FDO Pakistan
Freedom Network 
Girls at Dhabas
Human Rights Commission of Pakistan 
Human Rights Defenders United for Digital Rights
Institute for Peace and Secular Studies 
Institute of Research, Advocacy and development (IRADA), Pakistan
Internet Policy Observatory Pakistan 
Internet Policy Observatory Pakistan 
Joint Action Committee 
Khwendo kor
Media Matters for Democracy 
Minorities Rights Watch 
Network of Women Journalists for Digital Rights
Omar Asghar Khan Foundation 
Pakistan Press Foundation 
Participatory Welfare Services - PWS
Participatory Welfare Services, Layyah
Peasants women society Pakistan 
Quetta City Live
Shirkat Gah - Women’s Resource Centre 
Social Action Transformation of Humanity (SATH Pakistan)
South Asia Partnership - Pakistan 
SPACE (Sufism for Peace & Co-existence)
Sungi 
Takhleeq Foundation

Tehrik-e-Niswan
The Cecil & Iris Chaudhry Foundation (CICF)
The SAWERA Foundation 

War Against Rape (WAR), Lahore
WISE 
Women Action Forum Hyderabad 
Women Action Forum Islamabad 
Women Action Forum Karachi 
Women Action Forum Lahore 
Women Democratic Front 
Women’s Regional Network
Youth Observatory Pakistan

International Organisations 

Afro Leadership Cameroon
Bloggers Association of Kenya (BAKE)
Freedom Forum Nepal
Internet Sans Frontières
NetBlocks

August 05, 2019 - Comments Off on July 2019: DRF team and CFWIJ met with Minister of Human Rights regarding online harassment of journalists

July 2019: DRF team and CFWIJ met with Minister of Human Rights regarding online harassment of journalists

Soon
Soon

The DRF team, along with the Coalition For Women In Journalism (CFWIJ) met with the Minister of Human Rights, Shireen Mizari, to discuss online harassment and disinformation campaigns against journalists in Pakistan on July 11, 2019. The Minister was briefed on threats faced by journalists in online spaces and urged the Minister to take concrete steps to tackle them. The honourable Minister assured the delegation that steps will be taken soon, particularly in the form of a journalist safety bill. Click here to read more details about the meeting.

Tech Camp at Lincoln's Corner

Soon

         Soon  Soon

DRF conducted a one day workshop at Tech Camp in collaboration with Lincoln’s Corner with 25 students on 9th July. The training covered various topics like cyber harassment, fake news, gender and privacy, digital security and online safety. The fruitful session engaged with participants of the tech camp and also resolved their queries in how they view the current cybercrime legislation and the need for a data protection law in the country. Team DRF really enjoyed delivering the session with such an enthusiastic audience.

Hamara Internet Workshop with lawyers in Quetta, Peshawar and Islamabad
Soon

Workshop in Islamabad

Soon

Workshop in Peshawar

Soon

DRF team and participants at the end of the workshop in Quetta

DRF in collaboration with our partners FNF conducted the Hamara Internet workshop ‘Our Right to Safe Online Spaces’ in Quetta, Peshawar and Islamabad. The session in Quetta took place on the 3rd of July with journalists and lawyers focusing on the current cyber crime legislation, fake news and online safety. The session in Peshawar took place on 22nd July and in Islamabad on 24th July with lawyers focusing on the current cyber crime legislation, data protection, cyber harassment and online safety.

Internal office training on digital safety

Soon

DRF conducted an internal training on digital safety in the office. The session was a refresher for the team about the existing safety practices one should adopt on devices and on social media. The training also focused on the existing IT policy and how the policy can be improved ahead. The team expressed interest in conducting similar refresher training in the future.

Nighat Dad spoke on Aaj News regarding fake news

Nighat Dad spoke on Aaj News discussing the impact of fake news on individuals and how it can lead to possible defamation. Ms. Dad mentioned that if someone has been a victim of fake news, they can report it to the Federal Investigation Agency Cybercrime Wing, established in various cities across Pakistan, under the Prevention of Electronic Crimes Act 2016. She also shed light on the fact that while there is a law, the majority of the people do not have any awareness regarding it or how to use the law in their favor. Click here to view the video.

Nighat Dad spoke about FaceApp on Samaa News

Nighat Dad spoke on Samaa News and expressed her concern over people using FaceApp, a Russia-based app which went viral in 2017 but this time it is catching on because of a filter that makes users look older or younger. She said that facial recognition is used by companies and governments across the world for different reasons and it is worrisome to see that the data of millions of users is being collected through an application, with no reference to where the data is collected and how it is being used. Click here to watch the video.

One-day digital safety training in collaboration with DCHD in Lahore

Soon

DRF in collaboration with Democratic Commission for Human Development (DCHD) organized a one-day digital security training for Human Rights Defenders (HRDs) on 12th July 2019 in Lahore. DRF was responsible for preparing and conducting the training according to the needs of the HRDs. The workshop was host to 24 HRDs and Child Rights Activists, who have been associated with DCHD through the Pakistan Human Rights Defender Network, Child Rights Education Program and other Human Rights Security trainings and programs.

One-day digital safety training in collaboration with Sindh Human Rights Defender Network

Soon
SoonDRF conducted a one-day digital safety training in Karachi with Sindh Human Rights Defender Network. The training was held on 15th July and the participants consisted of lawyers, journalists, HRDs etc. The aim of the training was to make the participants understand why and how they should protect themselves in the online world, since they use devices for their work even more now. The training was also intended to make participants capable of protecting their devices and their valuable data from any malicious activity offline or online.

Members of Network of Women Journalists for Digital Rights continued to pen blogs

SoonSoon

Members of DRF's Network of Women Journalists for Digital Rights continued to share articles and blogs on digital rights issues which can be found on the Hamara Internet website here. The Network advocates for women and other minority groups to have safe access to online platforms, where they can exercise their constitutional right of free speech without facing constant threats. The Network members pen articles to document these threats, bring forward issues in the implementation of legislation to prevent and protect women journalists from gender-based discrimination and sexual harassment both online and offline and also advocate their access to effective remedies.

 

August 05, 2019 - Comments Off on A beginner’s guide to cybercrime and ways to ensure protection against it

A beginner’s guide to cybercrime and ways to ensure protection against it

Soon
What is cybercrime?

Cybercrime is defined as an activity in which a computer or other electronic networking device is involved in an illegal activity for pursuing financial or personal gain. A cyber criminal is someone who uses a digital device to gain access to a person’s personal information, confidential business information, government information or disable a device through illegal means among other activities. A majority of cases of cybercrime involve hacking and exploiting/blackmailing personal data of an individual or a company and selling/disseminating it online for financial or other reasons.

The types of cybercrime:

Under the new cybercrime law Prevention of Electronic Crimes Act 2016, here are a list of cybercrime acts under the law marked as illegal:

  1. Unauthorized access to information system or data (PECA s.3)
  2. Glorification of an offence or encouraging that offence (PECA s.9)
  3. Coercing, intimidating, a sense of fear, panic and insecurity to ignite sectarian or ethnic hatred shall be punished with imprisonment for long term and a fine of 10 million rupees (s.10 of PECA)
  4. Use of internet services or software to defraud individuals or defame them (s.14 PECA)
  5. Intentionally spreading false information about a person which is known to be false and is exploiting the privacy and safety of the given individual (s.20 PECA)
  6. Intentionally and publicly exhibiting sensitive images and videos of an individual to harm their reputation or financial gain, blackmail, hatred shall punish the perpetuator with a jail term for 5 years or longer. (S.21 PECA)
  7. Intentionally producing, offering, or making available sexually explicit conduct of a minor without lawful justification (s.22, s.24 PECA)

A full copy of the cybercrime Act can be read here

How do you report cybercrime?

If you or an individual you know is facing harassment, intimidation or blackmail online, then here is a list of ways you can report to the authorities and bring the harasser to justice:

  1. Cyber harassment helpline by DRF: 0800-39393
  2. Register a complaint with your nearest cybercrime unit of the FIA (National Response Centre for Cyber Crime) by submitting a written application along with printed copies of evidence.
  3. The CPLC (Citizens Police Liaisons Committee) has set up a women’s complaint cell aimed at dealing with issues such as harassment, stalking and blackmail around the country. You can reach out to them using their phone number 1102, 021-35662222, 021-35682222.
  4. Madadgar National Helpline deals with helping women suffering from violence. You can reach out to their helpline service: (+92) 1098.
  5. If you are experiencing mental health issues due to online harassment you can seek psychological help at Rozan: 0800-22444.
Mahnoor jalal is currently doing her major in Liberal Arts from Beaconhouse National University

July 26, 2019 - Comments Off on Data Protection Legislations around the world

Data Protection Legislations around the world

When the General Data Protection Regulation (GDPR) was signed in 2016 (and ratified in 2018), it replaced the ancient law regarding data protection which was signed in 1995. It can be appropriately referred to as ancient because in today’s world, the pace at which new technology is surfacing is both astonishing and hard to keep up with. For example, in 1995 (when the EU passed its previous data protection law), Google was not even registered as a domain name. This shows just how quickly the technological landscape is evolving and with every new discovery, come new threats to the privacy of the citizen. Actions that were never thought to be possible are possible today and they pose a huge threat to individuals’ privacy.

Keeping in mind all the problems mentioned, the GDPR is considered by many to be the “Gold Standard” of data protection laws around the world. It keeps in mind many problems that have been swept under the rug before including audit trails of consent, the right to be forgotten (conditional) and unconditional adherence to the law itself disregarding where the organization in question originates from.

With all that said, the GDPR is only implemented in the EU. The situation of data protection in the rest of the world varies greatly. Some countries have data protection laws that match up to the GDPR while some countries don’t even have a legislation catering to the privacy of its citizens. The countries proven by the EU to have an adequate data protection legislation are:

  • Argentina
  • Australia
  • Japan
  • New Zealand
  • The entire EU (Since the United Kintgdom still hasn’t exited the EU, the data inside the UK is protected by the GDPR)
  • Uruguay

Some countries have legislation that is considered partially adequate by the EU. Those countries are:

  • Canada
  • USA

A lot of countries have data protection laws but they are considered inadequate in the modern times by the EU. Those countries are:

  • Angola
  • Bahamas
  • Benin
  • Bhutan
  • Bolivia
  • Burkina Faso
  • Chad
  • Chile
  • China
  • China
  • Colombia
  • Costa Rica
  • Dominican Republic
  • Equatorial Guinea
  • Gabon
  • Ghana
  • Hong Kong
  • India
  • Indonesia
  • Iran
  • Israel
  • Ivory Coast
  • Jamaica
  • Lesotho
  • Madagascar
  • Malavi
  • Malaysia
  • Mali
  • Mexico
  • Morocco
  • Nepal
  • Nicaragua
  • Nicaragua
  • Niger
  • Oman
  • Paraguay
  • Peru
  • Peru
  • Philippines
  • Russia
  • Senegal
  • South Africa
  • South Korea
  • Taiwan
  • Trinidad and Tobago
  • Tunisia
  • UAE
  • Vietnam
  • Yemen
  • Zambia

 

Any country that isn’t mentioned in the list above either doesn’t have a data protection law or doesn’t have any data regarding its legislation. However, a few countries are in the legislation making process and they may have a data protection law in the near future. These countries include:

  • Brazil
  • Ecuador
  • Honduras
  • Iraq
  • Jamaica
  • Jordan
  • Kenya
  • Nigeria
  • Pakistan
  • Panama
  • Tanzania
  • Thailand
  • Togo
  • Uganda
  • Zimbabwe

 

Soon

Mohammad Owais Sabri is an Alevels student at LACAS

 

 

 

July 24, 2019 - Comments Off on DRF at the conference on “Standing Up against Online Harassment of Women Journalists – What works?” at UNESCO Headquarters, Paris

DRF at the conference on “Standing Up against Online Harassment of Women Journalists – What works?” at UNESCO Headquarters, Paris

Digital Rights Foundation’s (DRF) Executive Director, Ms. Nighat Dad, attended the conference “Standing up against online harassment of women journalists - What works?”, organized by members of the Group of Friends for the Safety of Journalists in cooperation with the UNESCO Communication and Information Sector on 18th June. The event followed decisions by UNESCO’s 39th General Conference and the 206th Executive Board that called upon UNESCO to reinforce and prioritize activities aimed at addressing the specific threats to the safety of women journalists, both online and offline. Online harassment is a growing and ubiquitous problem faced by women journalists around the world. Several studies have demonstrated the psychological distress and impact of threats, violence and abuse to women journalists’ work and health, which affects gender equality but also freedom of expression and diversity in the media. 

The event brought together over 200 member state representatives, journalists and legal professionals to explore new ways to reinforce the safety of women journalists. Ms. Dad, while talking about the practical and legal measures to tackle online harassment of women journalists, pressed the need for more accountability from social media platforms such as Twitter and Facebook, where abuse against women journalists is rampant.

DRF at RightsCon 2019 


DRF team attended RightsCon 2019, a leading summit on human rights in the digital age, from 11th to 14th June 2019, in Tunis. DRF team was part of interesting debates around fake news, surveillance, data protection, gender and privacy. Nighat Dad, the Executive Director of DRF, spoke on various panels and discussions highlighting the state of digital rights in global south especially Pakistan. She also  discussed the shrinking civil spaces online and offline, the explosion of data and decline of privacy in the region, and spurring challenges due to the emergence of new tools and technologies in Pakistan. She emphasized on social media companies to formulate such policies that grant security to citizens and their data in online spaces.

DRF laid special emphasis on mental health and the stressors involved with it in this field. DRF’s Program Manager, Jannat Fazal, hosted a session titled, ‘Where there is burnout there is no innovation: Managing stressors for a better physical and mental health’.  The session focused on burnout and the factors of our work and culture reinforcing them. Ways to overcome systemic dispositions in activist community as well as in organizations were charted out to help participants in managing their stressors.

DRF at Privacy International Annual Meeting, London

DRF was represented by Executive Director Nighat Dad and Zainab Durrani at Privacy International’s Partners’ Meeting held in London between the 25th and 27th of June, 2019. This annual event consisted of a two-day workshop entitled ‘Building a sustainable Global Network’ with organizations from 15+ countries joining in.

The third day of the event was dedicated to the SIDA partner meeting wherein work being done by the partners on issues pertaining to gender, health and privacy were discussed, giving us the chance to learn from the varying trajectories of the other organizations involved and also allowing us to showcase and reflect on the themes and projects DRF engages in and strives to achieve.

DRF organized a five-day residency in collaboration with Pakistan-U.S. Alumni Network

N
2       3

all

To support a safer and healthier digital society in Pakistan, the Pakistan-U.S. Alumni Network (PUAN) in collaboration with Digital Rights Foundation (DRF) held a five-day master class in residence, “Creating Leaders for a Better Digital Society” in Lahore from 17th June to 21st June. This in-depth training program provided 36 alumni of U.S. government exchange programs from across Pakistan with the necessary tools and skills in digital literacy and citizenship to become leaders in creating a better digital society.

 U.S. Consul General Colleen Crenwelge, who spoke with the participants on the last day of the workshop stated, “The U.S. government is delighted to support the Digital Rights Foundation’s efforts to inform the public about online rights and responsibilities.”

Click here to read the press release.

Nighat Dad talks about online hate speech on TRT World

 

Ms. Dad talked about online hate speech and whether tech companies can be trusted in the program, Roundtable, on TRT World. A conservative commentator who published a series of racist and homophobic attacks on YouTube, has been allowed to keep his platform. It is raised new questions about whether technology companies are sticking to their own rules on hate speech.

Ms. Dad talked about how hate speech in Pakistan is different as compared to hate speech in other parts of the world and that it is important to make tech companies realize this. She mentioned that hate speech in Pakistan, unfortunately, can have real life repercussions for people like activists and journalists who only have online spaces where they can exercise their right to speak, as offline spaces is already shrinking. Hence tech companies need to be vigilant and have better content regulation policies.

Session on Cyber Harassment at Fatima Memorial Hospital (FMH) College of Medicine & Dentistry

HL
DRF conducted a session on cyber harassment on 27th June at FMH College of Medicine & Dentistry. There were 40 to 50 students present at the session and the discussion revolved around the types of harassment that exists online and how people can protect themselves from trolling and harassment online. A healthy debate on memes also took place and the students were sensitized about the detrimental consequences of making memes about someone.

DRF at the conference on ‘Is Propaganda Protected Speech?’, Netherlands 

A conference took place in Hague, Netherlands on 28th June where it was discussed if state-sponsored disinformation is a protected form of free speech or not and the available recourse when it harms people and institutions. Ms. Nighat Dad attended the conference and spoke on a panel, “Digital and Civic Solutions”. The panel took an in-depth look at the phenomena of state-sponsored disinformation campaigns, how they shape the contemporary information space, the use of social media platforms, the impact of false accounts and bots that have become prevalent and served as amplifiers for state-run media storylines. Ms. Dad also shared her experience of operating on this new digital-media battlefield and discussed the impact of inauthentic digital content.

Members of Network of Women Journalists for Digital Rights continued to pen blogs

        Soon  Soon Soon
Members of DRF's Network of Women Journalists for Digital Rights continued to share articles and blogs on digital rights issues which can be found on the Hamara Internet website here. The Network advocates for women and other minority groups to have safe access to online platforms, where they can exercise their constitutional right of free speech without facing constant threats. The Network members pen articles to document these threats, bring forward issues in the implementation of legislation to prevent and protect women journalists from gender-based discrimination and sexual harassment both online and offline and also advocate their access to effective remedies.

Joint Statement on the Internet Shutdown in Rakhine and Chin States by DRF and Other Civil Society Organizations

Internet shutdown was imposed in conflict-affected areas of Rakhine and Chin States on 21st June 2019 by the Myanmar authorities. The shutdown had created an information black hole in those areas and DRF, in collaboration with other civil society organizations, released a joint statement condemning this act without prior notice. The statement also read “The UN Human Rights Council has repeatedly adopted resolutions, most recently in 2018, identifying uninterrupted internet access as a fundamental enabler for the enjoyment of human rights”. Click here to read the full statement.

July 22, 2019 - Comments Off on DRF and PUAN conducted a five-day residency ‘Creating Leaders for a Better Digital Society’ in Lahore

DRF and PUAN conducted a five-day residency ‘Creating Leaders for a Better Digital Society’ in Lahore

To support a safer and healthier digital society in Pakistan, the Pakistan- U.S. Alumni Network (PUAN) in collaboration with Digital Rights Foundation (DRF) held a five-day master class in residence, “Creating Leaders for a Better Digital Society” in Lahore from 17th June till 21st June. This in-depth training program provided 36 alumni of U.S. government exchange programs from across Pakistan with the necessary tools and skills in digital literacy and citizenship to become leaders in creating a better digital society.

U.S. Consul General Colleen Crenwelge, who spoke with the participants on the last day of the workshop stated, “The U.S. government is delighted to support the Digital Rights Foundation’s efforts to inform the public about online rights and responsibilities.”

Developments in digital communications have had profound effects on the world in which we live. Though technological advances have driven economic growth and facilitated global connectivity, these developments come hand in hand with its demerits. Free, instant access to global news on the internet has brought with it the threat of widespread disinformation; the miracles of e-commerce have been accompanied by the scourge of identity theft; and while social media has made it easier for us to maintain global networks of friends, it has also facilitated online harassment and cyberbullying. We have also repeatedly seen the effects of online spaces in our lives offline which shows how integration of the internet with our lives is quite real. The five-day residency engaged the participants in various activities, discussions and group work and also touched upon the importance of online safety and security.

Thanking the U.S Consulate for their support, Nighat Dad said, “We are hopeful that our collective efforts to mainstream digital rights will create leaders amongst PUAN’s alumni who will benefit their communities and play a significant role in making online spaces safe. Digital rights have been excluded from the basic human rights framework until now and through trainings like these we will be able to make people more aware about the evolving online threats like cyber harassment, cyber bullying, fake news and disinformation and hate speech.”

Contact person: 
Seerat Khan 
Advocacy and Outreach Manager 

 

July 15, 2019 - Comments Off on What to do if your sensitive information is leaked online

What to do if your sensitive information is leaked online

Soon

Earlier this year, a girl in Badin district of Sindh committed suicide.The reports revealed later that she was being blackmailed online by some local boys over her edited pictures. The perpetrators sent the edited images to her fiance and the engagement was called off. The blackmailing and shaming has been identified by the police as a cause of the suicide. 

These unfortunate incidents are not uncommon. A couple of years ago, Naila Rind a student at Sindh University, committed suicide following exploitation and blackmail by her ex-partner after the two exchanged photos of an intimate nature.

Blackmailing with sensitive images is a form of sexual violence that is derived by an intent to shame, control, humiliate, extort and terrorize victims. Being blackmailed with the threat of distribution of your pictures or discovering intimate images of yourself online posted without your consent can leave severe emotional damage and physical repercussions for a person. This has pushed so many people, mostly women, towards committing suicide in extreme case due to the cultural pressure of shame and guilt. 

It’s important that we are aware of our digital rights and the laws which exist to protect those rights. 

What does the law say about it? 

In reference to Prevention of Electronic Crimes Act (PECA) 2016:
Intentionally and publicly exhibiting sensitive images and videos which is harmful to a natural person or his reputation to take revenge, blackmail or create hatred shall be punished under s21 of PECA for a term which may extend to five years.

Even if the pictures or videos were initially shared  with someone consensually they have no right to share it with other people or use them online.

Blackmailing people with their intimate and sensitive images and threatening to upload or distribute those images to the victim’s family is equally punishable under law.

What to do if your sensitive images or videos are leaked online? 

Don't Panic:

it is inevitable to feel anxious and overwhelmed at this trying time but try disengaging from these feelings for a bit and finding ways to get through it. It may seem hard but it’s not impossible.

Know your rights:

The intention of the perpetrator is to control you by trapping you into guilt or cycle of blackmail. Know that the only person who is guilty of offense is the person who is withholding your data without your consent and blackmailing you to distribute it to other people.

Look for online removal of your data:

If you discover your sensitive images or videos online, try to look for the reporting mechanism of the website and file a copyright complaint asking to remove your data. Social media websites already have built in mechanisms to deal with such privacy violations.

Report to law enforcement authorities:

There are more than 15 Cybercrime Wings of FIA working throughout the country to enforce the law. Go to your nearest FIA office and file a complaint. Make sure that you gather all the evidence and print it out before you go along with an application addressed to the Deputy Director of the relevant FIA office.

Help is just a ring away:

If you are unable to report sensitive information or get it removed, know that you can call us on our cyber harassment helpline and we will help escalate the process in getting them removed.
Even if you’re feeling emotional distress, you can call us and our mental health expert. This is a traumatic experience and it is completely normal for someone to feel violated.

June 21, 2019 - Comments Off on Journalists Safety, Welfare and Protection Bill: recommendations

Journalists Safety, Welfare and Protection Bill: recommendations

DRF held a number of consultations with its Network of Women Journalists for Digital Rights (NWJDR) as well as other journalists to discuss the Journalists Safety, Welfare and Protection Bill and propose recommendations to the Ministry of Information. The recommendations are as follows:

  1. Impartiality and transparency
    1. If contributions to the safety fund can be made by any entity, there must be mechanisms in place to ensure that donors cannot assert their will as to where/how the funds are utilised.
    2. Some journalists believe that the funding sources ought to be regulated as it will be impossible for the council, prosecutor, fund etc to stay impartial if majority of the funding comes from a single source.
    3. Mechanisms must be in place to ensure that the council remains independent in fulfilling its duties.
    4. Mechanisms must be in place to ensure that the Special Prosecutor under the bill, who will make major decisions under the bill, including who to prosecute, is able to make these decisions without being swayed. This is especially important as some cases may be against state agencies.
  2. Scope and Definitions

    1. Although the bill is fairly inclusive, it should be more explicit in recognising freelance / independent journalists in order to ensure that key stakeholders, who are sometimes the most vulnerable, are not left out.
    2. Protections to apply to print, electronic and social media equally so that the right to freedom of expression is extended to all forms of media.
    3. Protection against criminal and civil action for defamation and reporting on issues of public importance.
  3. Enforcement

    1. The bill should include provisions that make it mandatory for media houses to maintain certain workplace standards including separate bathrooms for men and women, maternity leave, reporting mechanisms for harassment, regular training for journalists’ physical security
    2. The bill should directly penalise media houses that do not maintain these standards.
  4. Digital Safety

    1. Seeing as digital spaces have created large scale expansion of the mediums of expression used by journalists, the bill ought to include digital safety and security of journalists (as online violence can lead to physical violence).
    2. Journalists should not be barred from using VPNs.
    3. Reporting of online harassment cases should be streamlined through the National Response Center for Cyber Crime (NR3C), FIA taking up cases with urgency.
    4. Withdraw notification on regulating encryption-based communication.
    5. Guidelines and regulations for media houses to implement digital security and safety of their employees.
  5. Accessibility

    1. This Bill should be applied to the peripheral regions of Pakistan, such as Gilgit-Baltistan.

June 19, 2019 - Comments Off on 5 Tips to Keep in Mind Before Using Uber and Careem

5 Tips to Keep in Mind Before Using Uber and Careem

Careem/Uber

Ride-hailing apps like Uber and Careem has, undoubtedly, made it much more convenient to move around the city, especially for women. But it comes with its own risks.

Recently, in a facebook video, a case emerged where a driver robbed the rider of his phone in a careem and ran away. After investigation it was found that the person who was driving at that time was not a registered driver at careem. He used a blocked ID and got it reactivated somehow. This raises a lot of privacy issues in the way we use technology.

Over the past few months, law enforcement agencies have also seen an increased number of crime reports ranging from robbery to harassment from these transport services. It is imperative that one has to share personal data with the application and with drivers while calling a cab;including name, location, and phone number, the handling of real-time data. Due to this, concerns regarding privacy, have also been raised and fingers have been pointed.

Wondering how you can keep your safety intact without having to compromise on using these convenient services? Here are a few tips to make sure you are protected:

Maintain your anonymity:

Uber masks your number when you contact number when you connect with your driver but Careem offers both options. Always make sure that you call your driver anonymously than from your own number in careem as well.

Ride tracking

Always share the ride tracker with your family or someone you trust, especially when you’re travelling alone in the night. Moreover, turn your GPS on and track yourself on google maps to ensure that driver follows the right path towards your destination.

Double check the driver’s identity

Before you sit in the car, cross check the car’s registration number and the picture of the driver to make sure that it’s the same person careem and uber has registered.     

Always sit in the backseat

Sit in the back seat, especially if you’re riding alone. This helps ensure that you can safely exit on either side of the vehicle to avoid moving traffic, and it gives you and your driver some personal space

Call 15 in case of emergency

If you feel like someone is trying to make you feel uncomfortable, trust your intuition and call 15. With the help of CCTV cameras and tracking your phone’s location, dolphins will reach you immediately.