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December 24, 2019 - Comments Off on November 2019: Launch of the Freedom on the Net Report

November 2019: Launch of the Freedom on the Net Report

Freedom House released its Freedom on the Net (FoTN) report for the year 2019, titled “The Crisis of Social Media” to reflect the plethora of issues emerging on social media. The report finds an overall decline in global internet freedom for the ninth consecutive year in 2019. Pakistan’s ranking on the report remains “Not Free” for the coverage period, with its score decreasing from 27 to 26. Internet freedom declined during this report’s coverage period due to authorities’ increased blocking of political, social, and cultural websites. The general election environment in July 2018 saw connectivity restrictions and increased disinformation. The report for Pakistan was authored by Digital Rights Foundation (DRF) and evaluated through the methodology developed by Freedom House.

The full report can be accessed here. Pakistan’s country-specific report is available here.

Facebook’s Safety Week

Digital Rights Foundation collaborated with Facebook and other partner organisations including Sahil, Human Rights Commission of Pakistan, Child Rights Movement and SPARC to plan three events on women’s online safety, child online sexual abuse, and safety of human rights defenders from November 7th till 9th. The events were an opportunity to become familiar with Facebook’s policies, tools, and resources to raise questions to the Facebook team.

Lahore University of Management Sciences (LUMS) Lecture

Representing DRF, Shmyla Khan and Zainab Durrani delivered a lecture on data protection and privacy at the Computer Science Department at LUMS for the course called “Privacy in the Digital Age”. We shared our advocacy regarding the personal data protection bill with the students and had a lively question and answer session.

Safer Communications and Secure Data Convening by IFEX

DRF attended a two day training organized by IFEX in Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia on the 5th and 6th of November 2019. The training brought together people from all over South and Far-East Asia and allowed for an exchange of ideas and best practises in terms of digital safety and digital training.

Focus Group Discussion with CSOs

As part of the project that we are collaborating on with Privacy International, DRF hosted a focus group discussion with members of the civil society under the theme of ‘How Private Are You?’ where we had a conversation on organizational security and privacy in terms of cyber security and measures that should be implemented to strengthen the existing framework. The discussion also revolved around the organizations sharing their concerns with regards to the topic at hand and our Digital Safety team conducted a session to best address their concerns. 

Two Day Online Safety Training for Human Rights Defenders in Islamabad 

DRF conducted a two day session with human rights defenders from Islamabad and Lahore regarding online safety and digital rights. HRDs discussed in detail on their privacy concerns and what safe practices they need to adopt in order to stay safe in online spaces. The session took place for two days on 30th November and 1st December and had human rights defenders which consisted of activists, lawyers, journalists and civil society.

DRF at IGF’19

The DRF Team was represented at the Internet Governance Forum 2019 in Berlin by an all-female team consisting of Sehar Dad, and Program Managers Maryam Saeed and Zainab Durrani

Nighat Dad spoke on the #MeToo movement to Newsline Magazine.

While social media has been such a great tool in bringing the sexual harassment conversation to light, it is also where people continue to be harassed. We need to focus on creating alternate physical spaces and forums where survivors of sexual harassment can share their stories without fear of backlash, she said.

Eleven organizations from civil society create the Forum on Information & Democracy, a structural response to information disorder

In the context of the Paris Peace Forum, eleven organizations unveiled the newly created Forum on Information & Democracy. This new entity will issue recommendations for standards in order to encourage the regulation and self-regulation  of the space of information and communication. The initiative was welcomed by President Emmanuel Macron during his inaugural speech. He first quoted “the Partnership on Information and Democracy, launched by Reporters Without Borders and supported by governments” to illustrate “the importance of these new forms of cooperation”, “a concrete example of innovations that provide different actors to move forward together".

The first General Assembly of the Forum on I&D was held yesterday at RSF’s headquarters in Paris. Its eleven founding members are NGOs, think tanks, multistakeholder initiatives and research centers: CIGI (Canada), CIVICUS (South Africa), the Digital Rights Foundation (Pakistan), Free Press Unlimited (Netherlands), the Human Rights Centre at UC Berkeley School of Law, University of California (United States), the Institute for Strategic Dialogue (United Kingdom), OBSERVACOM (Uruguay), the Open Government Partnership, the Peace Research Institute Oslo (Norway), Reporters without Borders/RSF (France) and Research ICT Africa (South Africa).

The Forum’s Board of Directors elected the RSF Secretary general, Christophe Deloire as its President. Nighat Dad (executive director of Digital Rights Foundation) and Leon Willems (director of Free Press Unlimited) were elected as Vice-President and Treasurer.

World Forum for Democracy

Session soundbites: “Democracy dies in darkness: do we have the information we need?”

Nighat Dad, Pakistani lawyer, Internet activist and founder of Digital Rights Foundation: “Vulnerable groups and minorities usually don’t find space in the offline world to exercise their right to freedom of speech”.

Moderating ‘content’ in democracies

Shmyla Khan from Digital Rights Foundation writes for The News on Sunday

This past week the social media behemoth, Facebook, released its transparency report for the period January till July 2019. This report, issued on a bi-annual basis, contains information regarding the enforcement of its community standards and policies on intellectual property as well as compliance with legal requests from governments across the world.

Click here to read the full article.

How not to lose private data

R Umaima Ahmed from DRF's Network of Women Journalist for Digital Rights wrote for The News on Sunday on the need for an extensive awareness campaign about how to protect data from fraudsters and intruders.

Click here to read the full article.

2019 Asia 21 Young Leaders Summit

The 2019 Class of Asia 21 Young Leaders including Nighat Dad (Pakistan), Founder & Executive Director, Digital Rights Foundation met on November 15-16 in San Francisco and Silicon Valley at the annual Asia 21 Young Leaders Summit. This summit held in the United States for the first time and it carried the theme “Technology & Humanity: Roadmaps for the Future.” Since the first Asia 21 summit, held in Seoul in 2006, the initiative has connected people from the region and facilitated collaborations in tackling the common challenges of the 21st century.

November 25, 2019 - Comments Off on October 2019: Wiki Gender Gap Editathon in Islamabad

October 2019: Wiki Gender Gap Editathon in Islamabad

DRF, along with the Swedish Embassy, UN Women, and Media Matters for Democracy, hosted a Wiki Gender Gap editathon on October 11 and 12, 2019 in which around 35 volunteers gathered to add content on Wikipedia about Pakistani women and gender-related issues. We were able to post over 50 articles during the two-day Editathon.

Read more about it here.

Two-day Event on Combating Online and Offline Sexual Harassment in Pakistan

DRF conducted a two-day event in Islamabad on October 22 and 23, 2019 on issues of harassment and their legal frameworks. The first day involved a closed-door consultation, “Combating Online and Offline Sexual Harassment in Pakistan: Rethinking Legal Interventions”, with journalists, lawyers, and civil society to draft recommendations regarding the existing laws and procedures.

The Conference on October 23, titled “Combating Online and Offline Harassment in Pakistan”, included a keynote address from Kashmala Tariq, the Federal Ombudsperson for Protection Against Harassment. The first panel, titled “Tackling the criticisms of the Law - Is the legal system a tool for silencing or resistance?”, was moderated by Nighat Dad. The panelists included Syed Fareed Ali (director training at Federal Investigative Agency), Tooba Syed (lecturer at Quaid-e-Azam University, Awami Workers Party, Women Democratic Front), Khawar Mumtaz (Chairperson National Commission on the Status of Women), Tanzeela Mazhar (Journalist), Zoya Rehman (Researcher), Aslam Chohan (Consultant at Punjab Ombudsperson for Protection Against Harassment), Fauzia Viqar (Ex-chairperson of Punjab Commission on the Status of Women) and Nuzhat Shirin (Chairperson, Sindh Commission on the Status of Women). The second panel titled “Reforming the law - A way forward” included Maleeka Bokhari (Member of National Assembly), Kashmala Tariq (Federal Ombudsperson for Protection Against Harassment), Barrister Jannat Ali Kalyar (DRF), Dania Mukhtar (Lawyer), Rukhshanda Naz (KPK Ombudsperson for Protection Against Harassment), and Aisha Sarwari (Co-founder Women’s advancement Hub, Author and Journalist).

The recommendations made at the conference are available in Urdu and English.

Academic Roundtable

DRF held an Academic Roundtable at the HRCP Office in Lahore on Friday the 18th of October, 2019. This event was held in collaboration with our partner organization Privacy International. The theme under discussion was ‘Privacy in the Age of Surveillance Capitalism’. The event began with a keynote speech by noted academic Ammar Ali Jan on the emerging issues of privacy and surveillance in the region, followed by an introduction to the Personal Data Protection Bill 2018 by our Legal Officer Jannat Ali Kalyar and later, a group discussion on related thematic areas was held amongst the students and academics. We rounded up the event with human rights activist and former Director Gender Studies Director at QAU, Dr. Farzana Bari delivering the concluding remarks wherein she laid emphasis on the need for having important conversations like these, which are pertinent to this day and age and the challenges that come with it.

Hearing at the Senate Standing Committee on Human Rights regarding Privacy and Harassment

On 25 October 2019, Digital Rights Foundation (DRF), along with members of civil society and student activists, got a chance to brief the Senate Standing Committee on Human Rights’ session on the issue of the University of Balochistan in light of privacy, surveillance of campuses and harassment in educational institutes. Along with the acting Vice-Chancellor of the University, student representatives were given a chance to put forward their demands. The Chairperson of the National Commission on the Status of Women (NCSW) Khawar Mumtaz, academic & activist Arfana Mallah and Shmyla Khan from DRF gave their recommendations to the Committee.

Read our full statement on the hearing here.

Read our statement in solidarity with students at the University of Balochistan here.

Submission to United Nations High Commissioner for Human Rights on new technologies and their impact on the promotion and protection of human rights in the context of assemblies, including peaceful protests under res. 38/11

DRF submitted its comments and recommendations to the United Nations High Commissioner for Human Rights on the right to freedom of assembly in light of new technologies. We highlighted the legal and social context in Pakistan while analyzing emerging technologies.

Read our submission here.

Hamara Internet: Engagement of Lawyers on Prevention of Electronic Crimes Act 2016 in Lahore

DRF in collaboration with Friedrich-Naumann Foundation held a session in Lahore with lawyers on the 2nd October 2019. Lawyers in Lahore discussed in detail about the current cyber crime legislation in the country along with the need of a data protection bill. Recommendations were given by lawyers regarding the data protection bill and there was also a much needed conversation around how awareness raising sessions need to take place with students regarding the safe use of the internet.

Hamara Internet: Engagement of Lawyers on Prevention of Electronic Crimes Act 2016 in Karachi

DRF in collaboration with Friedrich-Naumann Foundation held a session in Karachi with lawyers on 29th October 2019 at the Movenpick Hotel. Lawyers and law students from Karachi had a discussion on the Prevention of Electronic Crimes Act 2016 and how the implementation of the law needs to be made better. There was also a conversation around the data protection bill and how lawyers need to adopt online safety practices in their work life.

Two Day Online Safety Training in Karachi with HRDs

DRF conducted a two day session with human rights defenders from karachi regarding online safety and digital rights. HRDs discussed in detail on their privacy concerns and what safe practices they need to adopt in order to stay safe in online spaces. The session took place for two days and had human rights defenders which consisted of activists, lawyers, journalists and civil society.

Algorithms, AI & Civil Liberties - Visiting Program with the Friedrich Naumann Foundation for Freedom

DRF was part of a delegation from South Asia which took part in the "Privacy as a Human Right - Algorithms, AI & Civil Liberties” visiting program from 28th September to 5th October 2019 in Germany. Our DRF representative took part in high-level meetings with civil society organizations in Germany as well as public officials such as the Data Protection Commissioner in Hamburg and members of the Berlin House of Representatives.

Understanding Cyber Harassment through a Gender Lens  - Training with Sub- Inspectors Federal Investigative Agency

On 3 October 2019 DRF conducted a training session with FIA Sub-Inspectors in FIA Academy, Islamabad with the collaboration of UNWomen  The ubiquitousness of harassment cases was discussed delineating its reasons viz; anonymity of users, gender hierarchy, lack of digital literacy, and victim-blaming. It also highlighted how technology has deepened the gender divide and is being used as a platform for harassment. The aim of the session was to challenge participants’ views regarding harassment and shift attention from victim to perpetrator in order to help them empathize with victims coming to lodge their complaints.The objective was to build an insight into the fears and apprehensions of the victims that need to be addressed while building the victims’ trust in the procedure. Another purpose was that participants challenge their internalized views regarding harassment, understand the impact it can have on their work and, shift the attention from blaming or scrutinizing the victim to calling out the perpetrator and the whole system supplementing it.

Bringing Feminism to Mainstream and Digital Journalism

Digital Rights Foundation collaborated with Media Bethak to conduct workshop on “Brining Feminism to Mainstream and Digital Journalism” on October 30, 2019 at Media Bethak in Karachi. The workshop aimed to create a deeper understanding of sex and gender, busting gender-based stereotypes and the inclusion of these in the media, discussing power dynamics and its intersection with the patriarchal system, and learning guidelines for gender sensitive reporting. It focused on bringing together journalists, activists and students of media to work on reports and stories from a feminist perspective. It was attended by 25 participants who actively engaged in activities and discussions.

November 06, 2019 - Comments Off on September 2019: DRF’s team retreat

September 2019: DRF’s team retreat

All the work that Human Rights Defenders do across the globe does become really overwhelming at one point hence break and balance becomes necessary. Keeping alive its tradition and position of being a feminist organisation which believes in love and care, DRF team decided to go for a 5 day retreat which included team building sessions and exercises other than visit to different spots in Naran, followed by yoga sessions with the help of trained professionals.

Nighat Dad on the frontline of weaving a feminist canvas

By Annick Cojean for Le Monde

Nighat Dad spoke to one of the leading french newspapers about her struggle and experience as a feminist activist who not only is working on the protection of digital rights, against harassment but is also taking an active part in organising the women’s liberation movement in the country.

Nighat Dad spoke on Neo News about internet shutdowns Jammu-Kashmir

Nighat Dad spoke to Neo News on the recent Netblocks and Operations of tech giants in Pakistan with reference to censorship of reports on human rights violations in Jammu-Kashmir.

https://youtu.be/C9O3Au1bR1Y

Nighat Dad talked to the World Association of Newspapers and News
publishers regarding online abuse and harassment

Nighat Dad’s conversation with the World Association of Newspapers and News Publishers on The war online: Abuse and harassment, and what journalists are doing about it

https://blog.wan-ifra.org/2019/09/13/podcast-the-war-online-abuse-and-harassment-and-what-journalists-are-doing-about-it

Nighat Dad’s comments on How the rumour of a baby killer vaccine caused panic in a Pakistani city for TRT World

https://www.trtworld.com/magazine/how-the-rumour-of-a-baby-killer-vaccine-caused-panic-in-a-pakistani-city-29501

Meeting on Collaborations for local media development organizations and journalists on 19th September in Islamabad

DRF participated and moderated a meeting with local media development organisations with the aim of mapping emerging issues in the media landscape. The meeting was a step towards working towards coalition-building and partnerships within civil society groups.

DRF collaborates with UNESCO to mark International Day for the Universal Access to Information in Pakistan on 26th September in Lahore

In partnership with UNESCO Islamabad, DRF commemorated the International Day for the Universal Access to Information (IDUAI) 2019 at ICS, University of Punjab on Thursday, September 26, 2019. The event was organized in partnership with the European Union, Embassy of the Kingdom of the Netherlands, Embassy of Sweden in Pakistan, United Nations Development Program (UNDP) and civil society partner Digital Rights Foundation (DRF). At the event, the Ambassador of Sweden, H.E. Ms. Ingrid Johansson,gave the opening remarks  along with the Ambassador of the Embassy of the Kingdom of the Netherlands, H.E. Mr. Wouter Plomp. Speakers at the event included Mr. Zahid Abdullah, the Federal Information Commissioner; Mr. Mahboob Qadir Shah; the Chief Punjab Information Commissioner; Anoosha Shaigan from Courting the Law; Mr. Nabeel Qadeer and Usama Khilji from Bolo Bhi. UNESCO Representative Pakistan, Ms. Vibeke Jensen gave closing remarks. The Deputy Head of mission at European Union Delegation to Pakistan, Ms. Anne Marchal also attended the event.

Gender & Privacy Session at Kinnaird College for Women

DRF conducted a session with students at Lahore’s Kinnaird College for Women on the 6th of September on the digital right to privacy, its importance and the intersectional relation between gender and privacy.

The audience comprised of a little under 100 gender studies and law students and it made for an interactive session with considerable back and forth on the issues pertaining to young women in the online sphere.

Women Parliamentarians Support Group event by Tabeer & PILDAT

DRF presented its ‘Online Participation of Female Politicians’ study to a working group of women politicians and parliamentarians at an event organized by PILDAT and Tabeer. The study, which was released last year in the aftermath of the Pakistan’s General Elections looked into the experience of female politicians in the online sphere, both in terms of their campaigning and how public perception and trolling affected them.

DRF conducted a session on women’s rights and digital security especially cyber harassment

Jannat Fazal from DRF delivered a session on Women's Rights and Digital Security especially Cyber-Harassment in Lahore on September 5, 2019 organized by Rozan for the Pakistan Forum for Democrating Policing Punjab Chapter.  This session was aimed at building the capacity and to increase awareness regarding digital rights and making the cyber space safer for the forum members.

DRF at NCHR consultation on guidelines to protect human rights defenders

DRF participated in a consultation jointly organized by BLUE VEINS, WISE, PHRDN and NCHR in Lahore on september 3, 2019. The consultation was to discuss the NCHR policy guidelines on the protection of Human Rights Defenders.The policy guidelines advocate for stronger legal recognition and protection of human rights defenders in Pakistan recognizing their important work and role in society.

Climate March: DRF also joined the digital #globalclimatestrike from 20th to 27th September

DRF’s website went on a digital climate strike this year on account of the Global #ClimateStrike. With the ever changing problem of climate change it is important for us to recycle and conserve our planet. DRF shut it’s website off for a day this year as a reminder for everyone to do more and contribute in saving our planet.

DRF at round-table on Protection against harassment of women at workplace act (2010)

Our Legal Officer, Barrister Jannat Ali Kalyar attended a Round-table discussion for the review of Protection against Harassment of Women at Workplace act (2010), organized by the National Commission on the Status of Women on the 26th of September. There she raised concerns over the implementation of the Act, the challenges that the complainants face in filing their complaint and the way forward.

DRF at Digital Youth Summit (DYS)


Our Legal Officer, Barrister Jannat Ali Kalyar attended the Digital Youth Summit (DYS) that took place in Peshawar from the 28th to the 29th of September where she spoke on Digital Privacy, Cyber Security and the Future of Citizenship in Pakistan. She also stressed on the need to exercise our right to information to hold private and public bodies in control of our data accountable.

October 04, 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

66 women's rights, human rights, digital rights and feminists groups in Pakistan have endorsed a statement condemning the internet and communications blackout in Kashmir. The statement condemns 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. The nature and scope of this shutdown is particularly alarming, however it 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.

The statement also condemns 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 Indian government and amplifying the voices of Kashmiris on the ground. Access to communication networks during times of conflict and political turmoil is particularly important to prevent further human rights violations and arbitrary measures. The statement has been endorsed by human rights organisations such as Human Rights Commission of Pakistan (HRCP), Asma Jahangir Legal Aid Cell (AGHS), Digital Rights Foundation as well as collectives such as Aurat March (Lahore and Karachi) and Women’s Action Forum (Islamabad, Karachi, Lahore and Hyderabad). International organisations such as Freedom Forum Nepal NetBlocks, Internet Sans Frontières and Bloggers Association of Kenya (BAKE) have also endorsed the statement.

Women Journalists’ Residency Retreat

DRF, with FPU’s support, hosted a three-day residency retreat in Nathia Gali for women journalists from across Pakistan. The retreat focused on fun team building exercises, gender sensitisation and expert support in multiple areas such as mindfulness and stress management. Journalism as a field has the reputation of involving high-pressure and stressful work and can cause work-related stress, depression and anxiety but these are not treated with the same seriousness as more tangible risks. The retreat allowed the participants to share their experiences and the challenges they face in the field of journalism in de-stressed environment away from their day-to-day work lives. The sessions on stress management included relaxation activities such as yoga and trust circles. The retreat also aimed at strengthening the network as a support mechanism for the members. 

Consultation: “Due Diligence Project: Online Violence against Women"

DRF, in collaboration with the Due Diligence project, conducted a focus group discussion with women’s rights organisations within Lahore to discuss online harassment and the mechanisms associated with addressing harassment in digital spaces. The participants included members from AGHS, ASR, HRCP, WISE, UN Women and the Women’s Development Department. DRF will continue its collaboration with the Due Diligence project through assistance with undertaking the 5 country research in Asia Pacific on online violence against women.

Workshop on Online Harassment at Fatima Memorial

DRF conducted a workshop at the NUR Student Leadership Program with young students on the subject of online harassment and digital freedoms. The audience consisted of young students who engage with online spaces on a daily basis.

Participation in HRCP’s focus group discussion on social citizenship

DRF participated in Human Rights Commission of Pakistan (HRCP)’s focus group discussion on the intersection of human rights and social citizenship within a Pakistani context. DRF raised issues of online spaces as sites of political participation and exclusion.

Meeting with Member of National Assembly, Maiza Hameed

A delegation from DRF met with member of the national assembly Maiza Hameed who is part of the Committee on Information Technology. Maiza was briefed on matters of data protection and performance of the NR3C, FIA. The MNA expressed her intention to ensure that protections for privacy were strengthened in the form of a personal data protection law.

TDEA Advocacy Workshop

DRF participated in advance advocacy workshop which was organised by TDEA at Islamabad. The two day workshop was focused on the collaboration of the gender and other minorities to work along for the advocacy of recommendations of the electoral rights in Pakistan. 

The three groups that were primarily focused on was transgenders, person with disabilities and women.The participants of the workshop were transgender rights activists, person with disabilities rights activists and women rights activists who were invited from all over Pakistan.

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

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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

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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
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Workshop in Islamabad

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Workshop in Peshawar

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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

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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

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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

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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

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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.

 

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

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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

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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

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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.

June 03, 2019 - Comments Off on May 2019: DRF celebrated World Press Freedom Day on 3rd May 2019

May 2019: DRF celebrated World Press Freedom Day on 3rd May 2019

 

DRF organized a press conference to mark World Press Freedom Day on 3rd May 2019

DRF organised a press conference with women journalists from its network, including Sabahat Zakariya, Mehmal Sarfraz, Umaima Ahmed and our Executive Director, Nighat Dad. The participants discussed the present state of press freedom and its impact on democracy.

Tweet chat to commemorate World Press Freedom Day

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On 2nd May, members of DRF’s Network of Women Journalists for Digital Rights participated in a tweet chat to discuss gender dimensions of free expression on digital platforms and how they cope with the trolling and harassment.

“Online Child Sexual Abuse in Pakistan: Solutions and Call to Action”, Islamabad


DRF in collaboration with Internet Watch Foundation (IWF) hosted a roundtable titled, ‘Online Child Sexual Abuse in Pakistan: Solutions and Call to Action’ on 3rd May with various stakeholders. The roundtable focused on the laws governing online child sexual abuse and pornography as well as the online trends that are apparent in Pakistan. DRF shared its experiences of dealing with cases of minors facing online abuse and harassment. Valentina Picco, the International Development Manager at IWF spoke extensively about the mechanisms available at the national and international level for tackling online child abuse and the work that IWF is doing in the field. The event also marked the soft launch of IWF’s online child sexual abuse portal in Pakistan to report and remove online content pertaining to child sexual abuse.

DRF at Global Safety Summit 2019

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Facebook hosted the third annual Global Safety and Well-Being Summit, where over 100 organizations from 40 countries took part. A wide range of issues including suicide prevention, raising children in the digital era and protecting the most vulnerable people online were discussed in the Summit. Nighat Dad was part of the panel on combating harassment of women where she discussed coping mechanisms and digital tools to keep themselves safe in the online spaces.

Consultation Meeting on "Gender and Disability Audit of Election Act 2017"

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DRF attended the ‘Gender and Disability Audit of Election Act 2017’ in Islamabad on the 14th May to discuss the general elections 2018 and the lapses identified by the Long term Observers (LTO) in the election process. A detailed discussion took place with Coalition of Inclusive Pakistan (CIP) partners around gender and disability and recommendations were put forward to the Election Commission of Pakistan (ECP) on how to make the elections ahead more inclusive and fair for all.

DRF at Human Rights, Big Data and Technology (HRBDT) meeting in Colchester

The Human Rights, Big Data and Technology project, which is housed at the University of Essex in Colchester, called an experts’ meeting to discuss several pressing questions relating to consent. DRF was a part of the equation and introduced the Global South perspective which diversified the conversation and brought in the need to recognize the vastly differing standpoints from which the issues at hand needed to be analyzed and ways forward, worked on.

Apart from considering alternatives to the standard definition of consent and whether it needed changing, the various segments of the meeting also looked into the human rights impact on the situation and whether looking at it from this humane perspective would affect the way the consent model operated.

DRF was represented by Zainab Durrani who believes it was a great opportunity to contribute to a global debate and to gain insight into the academic dialogue surrounding the digital data regime and its significance.

Pakistan Forum for Democratic Policing (PFDP) - Punjab chapter

DRF attended the second quarterly meeting of the PFDP - Punjab chapter followed by an interactive capacity building Session on ‘Governance and Networking’ organized by Rozan on May 2 in Lahore.

DRF at Stockholm Internet Festival 2019

DRF was part of the Stockholm Internet Forum (SIF) 2019 hosted by Sida from May 15 to May 17, 2019. SIF is a platform for advancing a free, open, and secure internet as a driver of development. DRF was part of a panel discussion on 2019 Ranking Digital Rights Corporate Accountability Index where we discussed corporate responsibility and accountability for tech companies both in the Global North and the South.

IMS Digital Security Training in Lahore

The last of the digital security trainings under umbrella of DRF’s collaborative project with the International Media Support (IMS) titled ‘Fostering Open Spaces in Pakistan’ took place of Friday, the 3rd of May, 2019 in Lahore. The participants, as was the case for the entire effort, were women hailing from the information practice industry, including journalists, civil activists and human rights defenders who were interested in increasing their knowledge regarding cybersecurity and how to keep their gadgets in good shape.

Consultative Session on Implementation Framework of Punjab Women Development Policy, 2018

DRF participated in a consultative session on May 30, in Hospitality Inn hotel organized by UN Women in collaboration with WDD Punjab, to develop an implementation framework for Punjab Women Development Policy, 2018.

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

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.

May 27, 2019 - Comments Off on April 2019: DRF releases Annual Report 2018

April 2019: DRF releases Annual Report 2018

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DRF is extremely proud to announce the launch of its annual report for the year 2018 in which we've captured the work we've done throughout the year, with our partners and beneficiaries. The report highlights our achievements throughout the year 2018 and what we plan to achieve in the years to come. The report also gives us a comprehensive overview of our beneficiaries and the themes we cover with them through our work.

Click here to read the full report.

Release of "Fostering Open Spaces in Pakistan - combating gender specific threats to women's activism online" Report

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In collaboration with International Media Support, DRF undertook a project entitled ‘Fostering Open Spaces in Pakistan- Combating Gender Specific Threats to Women's Activism Online’ which focused on women journalists and information practitioners’s experience of existing in the online sphere and a study was put together highlighting the chasm between the permeation of online spaces by men and by women.

This Report was disseminated at the digital security workshops conducted by DRF in Lahore, Karachi, Quetta, Peshawar and Islamabad and will be further distributed amongst the necessary stakeholders. Click here to read the report.

Hamara Internet Session in Fatima Jinnah Women University, Rawalpindi

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DRF conducted a seminar on "Our Right to Safe Online and Offline Spaces" at Fatima Jinnah Women University, Rawalpindi on April 24th, 2019 where discussed the vulnerabilities of young men and women were face in online spaces and focusing on the current legislation regarding offline and online harassment to have a much needed debate around safe spaces on campus.

DRF held Digital Safety Trainings across Pakistan
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Training held in Karachi

 

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Training held in Islamabad

 

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Training held in Peshawar

Under the head of Fostering Open Spaces in Pakistan project, a series of customised digital safety trainings were conducted in Karachi, Quetta, Peshawar and Islamabad for women journalists, online civic activists and human rights defenders to cater to their concerns which were heard out via a series of seminars that were previously conducted in the same vein.

The trainings were aimed at improving the participants understanding of online threats and risks and equipping them with tools to keep themselves secure and vigilant against such possibilities which could corrupt their data or gadgets.

DRF at Capacity Building Workshop of Policy Makers and Duty Bearers by NCHR and UNESCO

DRF attended a capacity building workshop of Policy Makers and Duty Bearers on 19th April, on Sustainable Goal Target 16.10.1 by NCHR and UNESCO. The consultation focused on freedom of expression and safety of journalists.

Hamara Internet in Beaconhouse National University, Lahore

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Digital Rights Foundation conducted the seminar "Our Right to Sage Online and Offline Spaces" at Beaconhouse National University (BNU) on Monday, April 29th, 2019 where we discussed the vulnerabilities young men and women face in online spaces and focusing on the current legislation regarding offline and online harassment to have a much needed debate around safe spaces on campus.

Thirteenth Humanities and Social Sciences Conference at LUMS on April 11, 2019

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DRF presented its research on the roundtable “Sexual Harassment and #MeToo” as part of the Humanities and Social Sciences Conference. Zainab and Shmyla presented regarding online harassment law and the risks that inhere in these spaces. The roundtable was followed by a question and answer session that explored the future of the #MeToo movement in Pakistan.

LUMS Amnesty International Panel on “Human Rights and #MeToo” on April 19, 2019

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Shmyla represented DRF in Amnesty International’s Human Rights conference at LUMS. The Panel on the human rights implications of #MeToo with Sabahat Zakariya delved into the law around harassment and the efficacy of call-out culture.

DRF released the third episode of e-Baithak podcast

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DRF released the third episode of e-Baithak podcast, “Where we discover #GirlsinICT Day and TikTok”, marking Girls in ICT Day by having an in-depth discussion about women’s participation in tech fields and the issue of access to ICTs for women and young girls. DRF also discussed the phenomenon that is TikTok in our lighter segment.

Listen to the podcast here.

Nighat Dad spoke on surveillance capitalism in Naomi Klein’s class in Rutgers University

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Seminar on Online Harassment in Punjab University on April 2, 2019

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Zainab and Shmyla conducted a seminar on sexual harassment online and the need for online safe spaces Punjab University. The seminar explored questions of consent and the legal definition of harassment, both on campus and off it.

Panel discussion by HRCP on media freedoms

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Shmyla Khan represented DRF at a panel discussion titled “Speaking truth to power’: Attacks on the journalist community” at the Human Rights Commission of Pakistan (HRCP) on April 7, 2019. The panel was attended by senior journalists such as Najam Sethi, Marvi Memon, Munize Jahangir and Mehmal Sarfraz. There was an in depth discussion about censorship in the media and the insecurity faced by journalists in Pakistan.

National Feminist Convening on April 6 - 7th organised by Shirkat Gah

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DRF participated in Shirkat Gah’s annual National Feminist Convening, which focused on the future of the feminist movement and the majar themes of the women’s rights movement.

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

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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.

April 24, 2019 - Comments Off on DRF released its report on ‘Female journalists in new media: experiences, challenges and a gendered approach’

DRF released its report on ‘Female journalists in new media: experiences, challenges and a gendered approach’

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Digital Rights Foundation (DRF) has launched its report on the gendered, online harassment that female journalists face in the media and how this resonates in their offline spaces in the report titled, ‘Female Journalists in new media: Experiences, challenges and a gendered approach’. The report aims to generate a much needed debate around the problems that women journalists face in the new media and how they often have to take a step back from the media due to their vulnerable position in the field.
The report records the experiences of female journalists in a qualitative manner in order to understand the kind of harassment and intimidation women face in the digital platforms due to their work. It also explains how online violence of female journalists translates into offline violence. The report talks about how there are numerous issues that women face in their field like trivialization of gendered issues by their male counterparts and limited support from media houses and institutions.
Highlighting the findings of the report, DRF’s Executive Director, Nighat Dad, notes that “It is extremely hard for women in the media to move ahead in their careers due to the gendered harassment that they face both in the online and offline spheres. Women are often the subject of criticism in the field and they are usually judged on their looks and clothing as compared to the work they do.” She adds that, “The first step towards trying to eradicate this problem of online harassment of female journalists is acknowledging that due to the emergence and more usage of digital platforms for journalism, women are subjected to gendered harassment online, as opposed to their male counterparts”.

DRF celebrates International Women’s Day

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On this International Women’s Day, March 8th, DRF joined Free Press Unlimited and media professionals around the world to take part in Move4Women; a global movement to show solidarity and take action in support of women in the media. To celebrate the women in the media and highlight the importance of gender equality in the media, DRF’s friends and members of the Network of Women Journalists took pictures holding posters that had captions supporting the cause. The pictures were compiled in a video and were uploaded on DRF’s social media accounts. Today and every day, DRF and its friends strive for equality of women in the media. Click here to see the video.
Also, on International Women’s Day, some of the employees of DRF also took part in the Aurat March Lahore on an individual level. Hundreds of women, including members of DRF, took to the streets in Lahore to reclaim public spaces, celebrate the struggle and movement of Pakistani women and fight for their fundamental human rights.
Among other things, the women pushed for economic justice, implementation of labour rights, access to a fair justice system, reproductive justice, rights of religious minorities, promotion of an anti-war agenda and gender equality in political participation. The March was followed by overpowering performances by talented women.

DRF acknowledged by the Foreign Minister of Pakistan on International Women’s Day

On International Women’s Day, which is celebrated every year on 8th March, the Foreign Minister of Pakistan released a message acknowledging the efforts of women in Pakistan from all walks of life. The message states that despite the social and economic challenges, women of this country have carved destinies and have shaped the future of the globe and this very nation. Nighat Dad, the Executive Director of DRF, was also appreciated for her contributions to the society through her work at DRF.  Click here to read the full message.

Nighat Dad features on The Tempest’s list of ‘40 Women to Watch 2019’

DRF’s Executive Director, Nighat Dad, was featured in The Tempest’s list of ‘40 Women to Watch 2019’, which highlights extraordinary women and femmes making waves in their industries or passions of choice. Click here to view the article and have a look at other amazing women in the list.

DRF at Asia Liberty Forum 2019, Sri Lanka

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A two-day conference, Asia Liberty Forum (ALF) 2019, was held in Colombo, Sri Lanka on 28th Feb and 1st March. The Forum brought together friends of the freedom movement across Asia to discuss challenges faced by the region and to learn from one another how to most effectively advance free-market reforms. Nighat Dad attended the conference and was part of the panel discussion called ‘Challenges to Privacy in the Digital World’, where the panelists gave an overview of the legal and policy frameworks and discussed the challenges facing privacy advocacy.

Nighat Dad at Pakistan in the Digital Age conference, London

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On March 2nd, Nighat Dad spoke at a conference held by University College London on Pakistan in the Digital Age. A very interesting discussion took place in the context of women in the digital age, governance & policy and the economic challenges and opportunities. Ms. Dad talked about her work as an activist and the challenges she faces in this field. She also explained how she started working on issues relating to digital rights and the formation of the Digital Rights Foundation. She mentioned that when she was practicing law, she started looking into policies and legislations and found that there was nothing addressing the issues of online violence and harassment, especially for marginalized groups. That is how she started advocating for rights of people online. Geo News covered the conference. Click here to view the video.

The Role of Social Media in Journalism - a discussion on policy & regulatory context

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Digital Rights Foundation (DRF), Media Matters for Democracy (MMfD) and DAI-Tabeer partnered to organize a roundtable discussion on the role of regulation and policy-making in digital, titled “The Role of Social Media in Journalism”. The event was held on March 20, 2019 in Islamabad. The roundtable was attended by new social media platforms as well as traditional media platforms, along with civil society groups and members of academia. Policymakers, including representatives from the Pakistan Telecommunications Authority (PTA), national Senate and political parties also attended the session. The aim was to foster a multi-stakeholder dialogue and generate policy-driven discussions around issues of online content regulation, media law and data protection.

Focus Group Discussion at Kinnaird College

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In collaboration with Google, DRF held a focus group discussion with students of Kinnaird College, on the gendered aspect of online hate speech and aggression and the effects that moral policing and cyber stalking have on the female presence online.

Session at Bahria University

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Digital Rights Foundation in partnership with UN women, conducted a session at Bahria University Islamabad. 95 undergraduate law students were in attendance. The discussion, which was kept as an interactive session, focused on harassment in general then streamlined into cyber harassment in specific, and a discussion of the prevalent laws and case laws.
The session was conducted by two trainers, one of whom was a lawyer and the other a clinical psychologist.

Session at Pakistan College of Law

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Our Executive Director, Nighat Dad, conducted a session at Pakistan College of Law. The presentation included an introduction to cybercrimes and digital rights in Pakistan, as well as a comprehensive discussion on the various issues faced by victims of cybercrimes seeking justice. Since the session was designed for law students, the focus was primarily on the legal and procedural aspects of the existing laws, and prospective amendments in the area of cyber regulation. The session was attended by at least 90 students and remained an interactive discussion throughout.

DRF at Lahore Grammar School, Phase 1 DHA

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On March 22, DRF conducted a session at Lahore Grammar School, Phase 1 DHA branch on cyberbullying and digital rights. Representative of DRF, Ms. Jannat Fazal, talked about the rising cases of cyber harassment due to more usage of social media. She explained the students about digital rights and how they can take various measures to protect themselves in the online spaces.

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

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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.

March 07, 2019 - Comments Off on February 2019: DRF launches Ab Aur Nahin – a legal portal for survivors of harassment and abuse

February 2019: DRF launches Ab Aur Nahin – a legal portal for survivors of harassment and abuse

DRF is proud to launch it's latest venture Ab Aur Nahin which is a legal portal for survivors of harassment and abuse. The portal aims to help individuals stand up against abuse and help bring us closer to achieving our goal for creating safe spaces everywhere. The portal has a network of lawyers from across Pakistan who will be providing legal assistance to victims of abuse and harassment. The portal comes in light of current #MeToo movement in Pakistan and the growing number of cases of harassment that DRF has been receiving. Click here to read the details about the portal.

DRF releases a Policy Brief on Online Harassment in Pakistan

Policy Brief

In view of the increasing problem impacting all users especially women online, DRF has prepared a policy brief regarding online harassment through a gendered lens. The policy brief significantly expands the discussion on legal remedies available to the victims of online harassment and the lack of awareness regarding Information and communication technologies amongst masses. Click here to view the policy brief.  

Nighat Dad at ‘The Conversation’ held at IBA, Karachi

IBA, Karachi hosted an event for the BBC titled, ‘The Conversation’ where Nighat Dad also took part as a panelist. The panel also consisted of Pakistan’s football captain Hajra Khan, actress Mahira Khan and a comedian Faiza Saleem. The panel discussion was moderated by Kim Chakanetsa where the panelists probed into the challenges, frustrations and joys of being a woman in Pakistan. Ms. Dad, talking about DRF’s cyber harassment helpline, discussed that around 60 percent of the people that call for help comprise of women facing blackmail and dealing with sexual assault issues. She addressed the audience and highlighted the necessity of speaking up about mental health issues and cautioned them about the safe usage of social media and the internet. Click here to listen to the whole session.

DRF at ‘Imagine a Feminist Internet South Asia’, Sri Lanka

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Jannat Fazal represented DRF at ‘Imagine a Feminist Internet South Asia’ held in Negombo, Sri Lanka on 21st and 22nd February. The two-day regional conference brought together researchers, practitioners and policymakers from across South Asia for critical conversations seeking to answer the question: What opportunities does technology provide to question and, ultimately, start changing gender norms? The event focused on sharing research and findings around making a feminist internet.

DRF conducted series of seminars on “Fostering Open Spaces in Pakistan: Combating Gender-Specific Threats to Women's Activism Online”

The DRF team conducted a series of advocacy seminars entitled “Fostering Open Spaces in Pakistan: Combating Gender-Specific Threats to Women's Activism Online” in collaboration with International Media Support (IMS).

The Seminars took place in the four provincial capitals and Islamabad in the third and fourth weeks of February and will be followed by in-depth digital security trainings under the same head.

The envisioned aim of the seminars was to discuss the findings of the pilot study, and the recommendations drawn from the study and to glean insight and input from the participants regarding their experience of existing in the online sphere as women information practitioners in Pakistan.

 

Seminar held in Lahore

Seminar held in in Karachi

Seminar held in Islamabad

DRF at Social Media Festival

Shmyla Khan and Nighat Dad from Digital Rights Foundation participated in the second Social Media Festival 2019 at the University of Lahore on 22nd Feb. Nighat was the Keynote speaker for the session “Concept of Cyber Security and Modern Threats”. Shmyla represented DRF at the panel titled “Women in Technology Inclusion: Global and Local Perspectives” along with Nayab Gohar Jan, Fouzia Bhatti and Baela Raza Jamil.

Submission to UN Special Rapporteur on Freedom of Speech and Expression: Surveillance Industry and Human Rights

DRF made a submission to the United Nations (UN) Special Rapporteur on call for submissions on the surveillance industry and human rights on February 15, 2019. In the report DRF calls for effective and human rights compliant national legislation on digital privacy and data protection that provides for robust safeguards against intrusion from surveillance technologies as well as international commitments from nation states for transparency around sale and transfer of surveillance technology. The submission can be accessed here.

Nighat Dad on Aaj News, Dawn and Geo News

Nighat Dad appeared on Aaj News, Dawn and Geo News to give her opinion on the recent social media crackdown happening in Pakistan. Earlier the Information Minister, Fawad Chaudhry, announced the federal government’s plans to initiate a comprehensive crackdown on “hate speech” on social media in Pakistan. She talked about how the crackdown would lead to further curb on freedom of expression and it has not been defined what constitutes as hate speech and what falls under free speech, making this crackdown even more problematic.

DRF at the roundtable consultation by UNESCO

DRF took part in a roundtable consultation on “Mapping emerging challenges for independent journalism and exploring solutions under the Sustainable Development Goals Framework” in Islamabad. The event served as a platform for sharing best practices, recommendations and to develop synergies between stakeholders to strengthen monitoring and reporting mechanisms to promote safety of journalists. Representatives of DRF urged that freedom of expression in online spaces should not be curbed and independent journalists and bloggers should also be able to exercise their fundamental rights.

Students from Beaconhouse School System Bahria Town Branch at DRF

Students from Beaconhouse School System Bahria Town Branch visited DRF's office to discuss violence against women for their project. The girls asked our team questions regarding the threats that women face in online and offline spaces and how it is each individual's responsibility to challenge the patriarchal norms that have been set in the society and preach of equality and due justice by adopting more feministic approaches in life. While they visited they talked about how they'd like to be part of the Aurat March.

Seminar on Cyber Harassment at Gender Studies Department, Punjab University

Nighat Dad conducted a session at Punjab University with students of the Gender Studies Department. The discussion involved an overview of the laws relating to online harassment and other Cyber Crimes, as well as basic issues relating to online privacy. It was an interactive discussion in which the students actively engaged with the topics in focus.

DRF at the launch of Pakistan Forum for Democratic Policing - Punjab Chapter\

DRF participated in Rozan’s launch and first meeting of Pakistan Forum for Democratic Policing (PFDP) -  Punjab Chapter on February 28. The event focused on the need and importance of police reforms, progress and commitment of the current government towards improving the situation of gender-based violence and the role of civil society in promoting gender-sensitive society and police.

DRF at Fatima Jinnah Women University, Rawalpindi

DRF conducted a seminar entitled “Our right to safe online spaces” in collaboration with UN Women in Fatima Jinnah Women University, Rawalpindi on February 14. The aim of this seminar was to mainstream digital rights in public discourse and to discuss the gravity of cyber harassment and its implications in cultural context.

DRF participated at the Rapid Response Network for Women Human Rights Defenders

DRF participated as a key stakeholder in the meeting arranged by Shirkat Gah - Women’s Resource Centre (SG) and Punjab Commission on the Status of Women’s (PCSW) Rapid Response Network (RRN) in Lahore on February 4th, 2019. The objective of this network is to secure and provide immediate relief to human rights defenders across Pakistan working on freedom and empowerment of women.