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August 12, 2020 - Comments Off on July 2020: Digital 50.50, second edition released

July 2020: Digital 50.50, second edition released

Online Campaigns and Initiatives

Digital 50.50 Second Edition

Digital Rights Foundation released the second edition of its e-magazine, Digital 50.50. This edition focused on the mental health impact and coping strategies during the coronavirus pandemic. Some of the topics covered included, a feature on how children are making sense of the coronavirus lockdown, a narrative on digital healing and connectedness during the lockdown and listicle on strategies to do an effective digital detox for mental health and well-being. The reception received by the magazine has so far been amazing and we hope to continue supporting writers and content creators in creating visually strong and intersectional-feminist stories. Do give it a read here or skim through, we have filled it with love for our readers.

Hamara Internet and #MahfoozInternet Campaign

DRF has been taking forward the Hamara Internet campaign on #MahfoozInternet on Twitter highlighting the different aspects of digital rights in Pakistan. The campaign has been focusing on repelling section 20 of PECA 2016, regularly changing passwords to keep devices safe and secure and how social media companies track browser history of individuals.

DRF’s 5 Youth Ambassadors for the Hamara Internet Online Safety Program

DRF launched the Hamara Internet Youth Ambassador Program online and picked 5 youth ambassadors from across Pakistan on a vigorous application process online. The five youth ambassadors will be implementing the Hamara Internet Online Safety curriculum with young adults aged 14 till 18 years old.

Policy initiatives

DRF comments and Objections on the Citizens Protection (Against Online Harm) Rules 2020

DRF released its comments and objections on the Citizens Protection (Against Online Harm) Rules 2020. DRF reiterated their statement again that the rules are an attack on the fundamental rights of citizens in the country and shed light on why advocacy groups are boycotting consultation on the matter.

Read the full comments below:

https://digitalrightsfoundation.pk/comments-on-the-consultation-objections-to-the-rules/

Statement against the ban of Bigo live and warning issued to TikTok:

DRF released a statement regarding the ban on the app Bigo live and the warning issued to TikTok recently by the Pakistan Telecommunication Authority (PTA). In the statement it was highlighted how banning both these apps is an attack on the constitutional right of freedom of expression of citizens in the country.

Read the full statement here:

https://digitalrightsfoundation.pk/digital-rights-foundation-expresses-concern-regarding-banning-of-popular-social-media-applications-tiktok-and-bigo-live/

Joint Statement on The Digital Gap during COVID 19 focusing on online classes

Students across Pakistan have been protesting against the shift to online classrooms, rightly pointing out that as students from less urban centers move back home, they either lack access to high-speed internet or no internet at all. DRF released a statement on the digital gap during COVID19 highlighting the problems people are facing with this transition to online spaces. #Internet4GilgitBaltistan #OnlineClasses

Read the full statement here:

https://digitalrightsfoundation.pk/joint-statement-by-digital-rights-foundation-and-bolobhi-the-digital-gap-during-the-covid-19-pandemic-is-exasperating-inequalities/

Cyber Harassment Helpline June Statistics

Cyber Harassment Helpline received 413 complaints in the month of June only. In comparison to the previous months, this is a huge number. It shows a spike in the cases of online violence especially social engineering through which people are coerced into sharing their personal details like National Identity Card number, WhatsApp code, bank account details and, e-wallet details making them susceptible to hacking and financial fraud.

 

Read about our findings in the following articles:

https://gulfnews.com/world/asia/pakistan/cyber-harassment-on-the-rise-in-pakistan-report-says-1.72354581

https://www.technologytimes.pk/2020/07/02/cyber-harassment-on-the-rise-in-pakistan-report-says/

Media Coverage

DRF on GEO News focusing on how to prevent trolling on social media

DRF’s ED Nighat Dad spoke on Geo News highlighting trolling and how to prevent it in online spaces. She highlighted what measures people can take to avoid trolling and how cyberbullying is a problem in online spaces which should be focused on more.

Nighat Dad spoke on VOA about #unbanPUBG

DRF’s ED Nighat Dad spoke to Voice of America (VOA) about the PUBG ban and how this will have repercussions on our digital economy. She focused on why it is important to #unbanPUBG.

Watch the full interview here:

https://www.instagram.com/tv/CDCCXmIjPdJ/?igshid=11mk74l783mpa

Nighat Dad highlights in the News on ‘Any unwarranted restriction by animal market on digital media poses a threat to the nascent industry’

DRF’s Executive Director Nighat Dad spoke to the News about restrictions being posed on vloggers and bloggers online. She also highlighted how the restriction of speech of influencers and people online is a direct threat to their freedom of expression and a violation of the constitution.

Read the full article here:

https://www.thenews.com.pk/print/689312-any-unwarranted-restriction-on-digital-media-poses-a-threat-to-the-nascent-industry?_ga=2.128972876.1732215066.1595183554-673778655.1584952470

Digital Exclusion Cripples life in the pandemic

DRF’s ED Nighat Dad shared how digital exclusion silences democratic voices in the country. She talked about how internet connectivity is a serious issue in Pakistan and how it has suffered over the years.

Read the full article here:

https://www.trtworld.com/magazine/pakistan-s-digital-exclusion-cripples-life-in-the-pandemic-38503

پاکستانی تعلیمی اداروں میں جنسی ہراس کتنا سنگین مسئلہ ہے؟

DRF’s ED gave comments about how harassment in educational institutions is a growing problem and how institutions need to do more to address these problems.

Read the full article here:

https://www.bbc.com/urdu/pakistan-53566551

Dawn’s Editorial highlights in its editorial about banning online apps

Dawn’s editorial highlighted about banning apps online and retreated DRF’s point on how the justification of such bans to ‘protect’ children is akin to banning highways to prevent road accidents.

Read the full editorial here:

https://www.dawn.com/news/1570991

Events and Sessions

DRF at the School of Tomorrow discussing ‘Freedom & privacy in information societies’ #SOT2020

DRF’s Nighat Dad spoke at Beaconhouse's School of Tomorrow conference on ‘Freedom and Privacy in Information Societies’. She shed light on how every individual is vulnerable online and how one must deal with issues of hacking and privacy breach. She also highlighted why it is important to be aware of your digital footprint.

Watch the full conversation here:

https://twitter.com/memoonashahid/status/1281539835887603714?s=20

Nighat Dad on Digital Rights Digital Divides and the new normal? (A talk by Nighat Dad)

Nighat Dad gave a talk on Digital Rights Digital Divide and the new normal on 21st July. She discussed online spaces post pandemic and particularly highlighted how the online landscape in Pakistan has changed and evolved post pandemic.

DRF at the webinar ‘The critical challenges of tackling hate speech, xenophobia, rhetoric, and incitement to hatred against minorities’

DRF participated in a webinar series on debating challenges for minority protection and spoke on the ‘Critical challenges of tackling hate speech, xenophobia rhetoric and incitement to hatred against minorities’. Nighat Dad spoke at the event on July 2nd and 9th.

DRF conducted a virtual session with Lincoln Corner ‘Digital Rights & Reporting Cyber Bullying’

DRF conducted a virtual session with Lincoln’s corner on ‘Digital Rights & Reporting Cyber Bullying’. Nighat Dad spoke in detail on how protecting one’s individual identity online is important and what one must do to respond to cyber harassment. She also highlighted the cyber harassment helpline and other intitriaves of DRF to tackle cyber harassment and cyberbullying online.

Consultation on VPN registration

DRF held a virtual consultation on the issue of VPN registration by the Pakistan Telecommunication Authority (PTA) with civil society actors, lawyers and industry stakeholders. The consultation was an opportunity to understand the impact of regulating VPNs on not only digital rights indicators, but also the viability of the digital economy in Pakistan.

Meeting with FIA

DRF’s cyber harassment helpline held a meeting with the Cyber Crime Wing of the FIA on July 6, 2020 to discuss the ways in which the work of our law enforcement agencies can be improved to make the internet safer for women and gender minorities.

RightsCon Panels

Digital rights solidarities in South Asia
July 31, 2020

DRF hosted its community lab session on the state of digital rights in South Asia with participants from India, Bangladesh and Nepal to understand the common trends in digital rights and state policies in the region. The aim of this session was also to forge solidarities and partnerships in the region based on our shared histories and challenges.

Between regulation and rights: empowering the citizen through media and information literacy in the context of misinformation and offline violence
July 30, 2020

DRF took part in Digital Empowerment Foundation (DEF)’s session at RightsCon 2020. The session (available here) brought a diversity of perspectives of media and information literacy practitioners from the Global North and South to tease out the nuances of the operation of the phenomenon in different socio-political contexts, the government responses, and the role of civil society in mainstreaming media and information literacy within the communities they work with.

Technology-facilitated hate speech and digital activism
July 31, 2020

DRF also took part in BoloBhi’s panel on online hate speech with Arzu Geybullayeva from Azerbaijan and Alex Warofka from Facebook. The session delved into an in-depth discussion about technology facilitated hate speech on social media platforms with special focus on hate received by digital activism. The session analyzed the impact this hate speech has on the movements and their actors, and seeks to explore ways to deal with it.

DRF Attends Uproar Training on 3rd July

Members of  DRF attended an online training on using the uproar tools, which are quite useful for improving research and advocacy skills with the Universal Periodic Review (UPR).

Curbing Cyber Harassment in rapidly digitalizing world

On 23rd July, DRF took part in a facebook live session to address cyber harassment in a digitalized world. Muhammad Usman represented DRF at this session which was hosted by Peace and Justice Network Pakistan. Usman spoke on the offenses under PECA and on the reporting mechanisms and procedures of cybercrimes in Pakistan.

DRF at UNESCO webinar on ‘Advanced ICTs & Artificial Intelligence: Human Rights & Development Intersection

Nighat Dad spoke on UNESCO’s webinar on ‘Advanced ICTs & Artificial Intelligence: Human rights & Development Intersection’. She highlighted our growing reliance on ICT’s and technology and also highlighted how digital rights are important and need to be implemented in online spaces.

DRF at webinar on ‘Safer and Equal Online Space for Women’

https://www.facebook.com/watch/live/?v=1668862656610192&ref=watch_permalink

DRF spoke at the webinar ‘Safer and Equal Online Space for Women’. She highlighted how the internet and technology need to be accessible to women for it to move ahead. She also emphasized how these spaces aren’t safe for women and gendered minorities and the responsibility of social media channels to make these spaces safe for all.

A talk on domestic violence in Pakistan

DRF’s Dania Mukhtar spoke on a talk on domestic abuse in Pakistan. She highlighted how domestic abuse has been on the rise in times of COVID19 and what the law says in terms of domestic abuse cases in Pakistan

Watch the full video here:

https://web.facebook.com/sujagvideos/videos/716058139215895

Meeting with Women Action Forum (Lahore) dated 14 July 2020

DRF presented its comments to the amendments proposed by UN Women to the ‘The Punjab Protection against Harassment of Women at the WorkplaceAct, 2010’. After the meeting, the teams of DRF and WAF decided to form a committee to propose amendments to this law as well as the Punjab Protection of Women against Violence Act, 2016.

Session with AWAM

DRF conducted an online safety session with team members of

Association of Women for Awareness and Motivation (AWAM) Organization of Faislabad on the 29th of July, 2020.

The session covered a basic understanding of how to keep oneself secure and protected from risks while working and operating digitally and was well-received by our participants.

COVID19 Updates

Cyber Harassment Helpline

In the wake of COVID 19 lockdown when cyber harassment cases have increased  DRF has made its cyber harassment helpline operational 24/7 for three months. The cyber harassment helpline is offering the services free of cost for anyone who calls in or reaches out to us via social media or email. These include legal aid, the digital help desk, and mental health counseling. During these three months, our toll-free number is  accessible every day of the week, from 9 AM to 5 PM, our mental health counselors are working from 10 AM to 9 PM each day as well. Our mental health counselors are trained professionals providing free of cost counseling to women and marginalized communities. During all other hours of the day, our team is attending to complaints and queries through online platforms.

Contact the helpline on 080039393 or email us on helpdesk@digitalrightsfoundation.pk. You can also reach out to us on our social media channels.

Ab Aur Nahin

In times of COVID19 domestic abuse is at an all-time high where victims do not have anywhere to go. Ab Aur Nahin is a confidential legal and counselor support service specifically designed for victims of harassment.

www.abaurnahin.pk

IWF portal

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

https://report.iwf.org.uk/pk

July 13, 2020 - Comments Off on June 2020: DRF launches Digital 50.50 e-magazine

June 2020: DRF launches Digital 50.50 e-magazine

1: Online campaigns and initiatives

Digital 50.50

Digital Rights Foundation launched its newest initiative, a feminist e-magazine called the Digital 50.50, a monthly e-magazine that aims to create an open space for ideas, opinions, art, and discourse on a wide array of topics in the digital rights arena from an intersectional feminist lens. The idea behind launching Digital 50.50 is rooted in our organization’s goal to make online spaces safer and equal for womxn journalists and support them in providing reliable information to the public. To ensure gender-sensitive reporting and amplify women’s voices, Digital 50.50 believes that the inclusion of women is a must in all roles - from content creators and editors to experts, sources, and subjects of stories and art. The theme for the first issue was ‘Impact of Covid-19 on women and girls in online and offline spaces’ and it covered a diverse range of features on how the coronavirus pandemic has transformed the work that journalists do, the rise in incels online, increasing cases of domestic abuse and the economic issues faced by women workers and laborers.

Statement by DRF to save OTF

The US government has recently announced to push money and funding to closed source tools which considerably has adverse effects on the Open Tech Foundation (OTF). OTF’s work is under threat and OTF has been supporting countless journalists, human rights defenders, and organizations working on human rights. DRF condemns this move against open source technology and OTF.

Read our full statement here: https://digitalrightsfoundation.pk/drf-condemns-move-against-open-source-technology-and-otf/

Campaign on Digital Laws Asia

DRF, in partnership with APC, did a day-long campaign highlighting the legal landscape of Pakistan with regards to its Digital Laws. This campaign was held across South Asia on the same day and was meant to show a cross-comparison of countries in this region. DRF particularly highlighted the Citizen’s Protection (Against Online Harm) Rules 2020 which restrict freedom of expression and privacy online of citizens. DRF and other organizations have also given out a statement on no consultation on the rules without withdrawal.

Click to read our statement on the rules: https://digitalrightsfoundation.pk/drf-condemns-citizens-protection-against-online-harm-rules-2020-as-an-affront-on-online-freedoms/

No Consultation Without Withdrawl of Rules:

https://drive.google.com/file/d/1pvTqMRF3_fWaH5gQg6DNa9G2ldpAdY_3/view

COVID19 contact tracing

DRF analyzed the COVID19 contact tracing app and raised its concerns regarding possible surveillance through the app and the safety of the user’s data.

Read our full analysis here: https://digitalrightsfoundation.pk/covid-19-gov-pk-the-tech-to-battle-coronavirus/

Campaign on together for reliable information

In collaboration with the Free Press Unlimited, Digital Rights Foundation participated in a campaign to highlight the work done by DRF and its Network of Women Journalists for Digital Rights to bring accurate and reliable information to the public amid the coronavirus pandemic. The campaign included a series of videos from DRF’s team on our role in bringing reliable information on digital rights to our beneficiaries and the general public and the launch of a toolkit for journalists and content creators on how to keep themselves safe considering the new set of risks and threats being posed in the online spaces. It also brought to the public, a series of visual stories from the journalistic frontline of Covid-19.

DRF internship program

DRF is proud to launch our internship program for this year and also introduce our brilliant batch of interns in the past who worked tirelessly to help us in what we do. To know more about our work and the different projects our interns worked on click on the link below:

https://digitalrightsfoundation.pk/internship-program/

2: Policy Initiatives

Cyber Harassment Helpline Report 2019

DRF released Cyber Harassment Helpline’s annual report of 2019 on 24th June. The report highlights complaint trends observed in the previous year as well as the policy recommendations for all the stakeholders. Concerning trends observed were the increase of attacks on mobile wallets/ e-wallets like EasyPaisa and phishing attacks where people were targeted through WhatsApp or text messaging. The Helpline saw a total of 2023 cases being reported, with a daily average of 146 calls per month in 2019. When compared to the overall complaints the Helpline had received over three years, the calls from 2019 account for 45% of all complaints. This showed an alarming increase in the number of cases over time and a disturbing upward trend in cyber-harassment cases.

Link to report:

https://digitalrightsfoundation.pk/wp-content/uploads/2020/06/DRF-Helpline-Report-2019-3.pdf

Forum on Information and Democracy working group to combat infodemic and information chaos

The forum on information and democracy launched their first working group to combat infodemic and information chaos and making a policy framework to tackle this crisis. Our ED Nighat Dad is a part of this forum where the mission is to assist with the regulation and self-regulation of the online information and communication domain and to implement the goals of the International Partnership for Information and Democracy that was launched during the UN General Assembly in September 2019 and has now been signed by 37 countries.

Read about the working group here:

https://informationdemocracy.org/2020/06/24/forum-launches-working-group-to-combat-infodemic-information-chaos/

Blog on Internet shutdown in Quetta

DRF observed with great concern the internet shutdown in the provincial capital of Quetta earlier last month that affected the lives of the Baloch residents. The effects of cutting off an essential resource extend not only to the difficulties in the work of journalists who are covering the news in the midst of a pandemic but also to the safety of all those who have to venture out to work and have limited access to their families as well as the access of information to all citizens in the affected area.

Link to the blog post:

https://digitalrightsfoundation.pk/quetta-internet-shutdown/

Blog on countries wanting to regulate and control VPNs and their access

DRF’s intern Areeba Jibril pens down her thoughts around countries regulating and controlling VPNs and how that might be a direct threat to an individual’s privacy, free speech, and elections. She tweets at @AreebaJibril

Link to blog:

https://digitalrightsfoundation.pk/virtual-private-networks-no-longer-private-as-pta-requires-registration/

3: Media Engagement

189% increase in cyber-harassment cases during COVID19 (Policy brief)

Cyber Harassment Helpline released a policy brief on 3rd June delineating the number of cases and complaint trends observed during the lockdown. An increase in the number of complaints during lockdown was observed. The helpline received a combined 136 complaints in March and April during the lockdown compared to 47 complaints, an increase of 189 percent, before the lockdown in January and February. The majority of cases received at the cyber harassment helpline during the lockdown months pertained to blackmailing through non-consensual sharing of information, intimate pictures, and videos. Complaints of hate speech, phishing, fake profiles, and defamation were also reported. These complaints were only received through online mediums (Emails, social media platforms) as Cyber harassment helpline’s toll-free number was inactive. The policy brief also suggested measures for the government to tackle this issue of increased cyber harassment.

Link to policy brief:

https://digitalrightsfoundation.pk/wp-content/uploads/2020/06/Covid-19.pdf

Press coverage of brief:

https://www.dawn.com/news/1561065

https://ibcurdu.com/news/111316/

DRF on morning show ‘Aaj Pakistan with Sidra Iqbal’

Nighat Dad spoke on the morning show ‘Aaj Pakistan with Sidra Iqbal’ highlighting how social media and our personal lives are interlinked. She also highlighted how everyone is vulnerable on social media and it is important to aware of what you’re sharing online.

Link to show:

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=NtKHNL7HkVU

Inside Pakistan’s COVID19 Contact Tracing app

DRF spoke to The Diplomat around Pakistan’s COVID19 Contact Tracing App and how boundaries need to be established by the state when they’re introducing such an app. It was highlighted how the privacy of users should also be considered when the app is introduced.

Read the full article here:

https://thediplomat.com/2020/07/inside-pakistans-covid-19-contact-tracing/

4: Events and Sessions

Human Rights in the Digital era: Business respect for civil and political rights in times of emergency

Nighat Dad participated in the United Nations Virtual Forum on Responsible Business and Human Rights 2020. She spoke on a panel on ‘Human Rights in the Digital Era: Business Respect for Civil and Political Rights in times of emergence’. She particularly highlighted the human rights implications of business tackling during COVID 19.

Link to details of the session:

https://rbhr2020.heysummit.com/talks/human-rights-in-the-digital-era-business-respect-for-civil-and-political-rights-in-times-of-emergency/#

APAC Insight 2- True Lies: Misinformation, Censorship and the Open Internet

DRF’s ED Nighat Dad spoke in the webcast ‘True Lies: Misinformation, Censorship and the Open Internet’ hosted by Internet Society Asia Pacific (ISOC) on 30th June. Nighat emphasized on the disinformation campaigns around Pakistan recently and how that is a direct threat to activists to the country.

Link to webcast:

https://isoc.live/12355/

DRF in webinar on How to reduce the digital gender divide in post-pandemic Pakistan

On 16th June DRF in collaboration with the Swedish embassy did a webinar on ‘How to reduce the digital gender divide in post-pandemic Pakistan’. The webinar started with a keynote address from the Swedish ambassador, Ingrid Johansson and later had a presentation by Camila Wagner and Nighat Dad. Camila Wagner, an awarded journalist specializing in societal challenges. She presently runs Klara K, consultants in public affairs, crisis management and leadership. Camila explained the digital gender divide across the globe and in Sweden while DRF’s Nighat Dad drew stark differences between Pakistan and Sweden, and how still much needed to be done in the country.

Online Violence against women during COVID19 at #WOWGlobal24- British council

Nighat Dad spoke about online violence against women during COVID19 ad #WOWGlobal24 by British Council. She shared statistics from the helpline in which we saw an increase in online violence complaints on the helpline by 180% in the month of March when the lockdown was imposed as opposed to January and February of 2020.

 

Click here to read about what she said:

https://www.dawn.com/news/1565792/wow-festival-begins-online

Roundtable on cybercrime and harassment

Nighat Dad spoke on the roundtable on ‘Cyber Harassment Under the Shadow of Corona: Incidence, Control and Punishment’ hosted by the National Initiative against Organized Crime Pakistan. She highlighted how cyber harassment has increased during these times and how cyber harassment helpline is a resource for people facing harassment online.

 

 

 

Emerging stories: Journalism in times of isolation FPU

DRF’s ED participated in Freedom Press Unlimited’s Emerging stories focusing on journalism in times of isolation. She highlighted the work DRF has done with journalists and the challenges journalists are facing on the ground here due to the pandemic.

 

Link to the panel:

https://dezwijger.nl/programma/journalism-in-times-of-isolation-10

 

Courting the Law’s discussion on ‘Rights in the Digital Age’

DRF participated in Candid with Pasha on a live discussion on the ‘Personal Data Protection Bill 2020- How will it impact individuals and corporate?’ on 8th June. She highlighted the discrepancies in the bill and how more work needs to be done around it.

Link to discussion:

 

Increased cyber harassment during COVID19 on FM101

DRF spoke on FM 101 around how harassment during COVID19 has increased and also shared startling figures from the helpline around this.

DRF at the public hearing at Budenstag highlighting ‘Human Rights and Freedom of Association in the Digital Age’

DRF’s ED spoke at Budenstag public hearing focusing on human rights and freedom of association in the digital age. She highlighted how lawmakers need to be more thoughtful and aware of the interventions they propose and how it can have international repercussions for all. She also highlighted the responsibilities of the Facebook oversight board and how women and other marginalized groups are vulnerable on the internet.

Aaahung panel: Impact of Online Harassment on Pakistani Youth

DRF participated in the webinar on the ways in which the youth is using online spaces and the efforts we can take to make it a safer place for them.

A recording of the panel can be found here: https://www.facebook.com/watch/live/?v=321965452134965&ref=watch_permalink.

UN Women panel: Cyber Security & data privacy during COVID19

This webinar focused on the challenges women were facing regarding online violence and remedies available to them in Pakistan. It was a vibrant discussion about the shortcoming of current reporting mechanisms and the steps that can be taken to improve them.

Session on online safety with Dastak Organization

DRF conducted an online session with the team at Dastak Charitable Organization, who work as a refuge for women who have faced physical violence and also operate a crisis helpline for them. The session, which was held on the 29th of June, 2020, proved to be informative and interactive and generated positive feedback.

5: Covid19 Updates

24/7 Cyber Harassment Helpline

On 13th June, given the rise of cyber harassment cases following the COVID 19 lockdown DRF made its cyber harassment helpline operational 24/7 for three months. The cyber harassment helpline is offering our services free of cost for anyone who calls in or reaches out to us via social media or email. These include legal aid, the digital help desk, and mental health counseling. During these three months, our toll-free number will be accessible every day of the week, from 9 AM to 5 PM, our mental health counselors will work from 10 AM to 9 PM each day as well. Our mental health counselors are trained professionals and are providing free of cost counseling to women and those from marginalized communities. During all other hours of the day, our team is attending to complaints and queries through online platforms.

Contact the helpline on 080039393 or email us on helpdesk@digitalrightsfoundation.pk. You can also reach out to us on our social media channels.

Ab Aur Nahin

In times of COVID19 domestic abuse is at an all-time high where victims do not have anywhere to go. Ab Aur Nahin is a confidential legal and counselor support service specifically designed for victims of harassment.

www.abaurnahin.pk

IWF portal

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

https://report.iwf.org.uk/pk

 

June 3, 2020 - Comments Off on May 2020: DRF celebrates World Press Freedom Day

May 2020: DRF celebrates World Press Freedom Day

Online campaigns and initiatives

World Press Freedom Day

Digital Rights Foundation conducted a three-day campaign to raise awareness on World Press Freedom Day, 3rd May 2020, on how the COVID-19 pandemic and the subsequent surge in misinformation impacting press freedom. The campaign included three facebook live sessions hosted by our Executive Director Nighat Dad and other team members with amazing journalists including, Amber Rahim Shamsi, Maham Javaid and Najia Asher. The themes of discussion revolved around coronavirus and journalism: disinfodemic and its impact on independent journalism; journalistic frontline, transforming newsrooms and increased stress; and surveillance structure and press freedom. DRF also shared resources and tools by other organisations that can help journalists in fact-checking information around COVID-19. Five infographics on the theme were also developed and shared on DRF’s socials for awareness raising.

Together for Reliable Information Campaign

DRF participated in Free Press Unlimited’s Campaign to highlight the work that our organisation and its Network of Women Journalists’ members are doing to provide people with reliable information. The campaign included five short video interviews from our team and women journalists working at the frontline to report covid-19 related news from the field. DRF developed a digital hygiene toolkit for journalists and the wider community of content creators and bloggers, which will be launched in June 2020. Ten picture stories covering the journalistic frontline of covid-19 were also included in the campaign.

DRF Annual Report

DRF launched it’s Annual report for 2019 highlighting all the important work that we’ve done so far. Through this report we would like to celebrate our team and its effort over the last year. We aim to keep striving towards having a safe and equal digital experience for all.

See our annual report here:

https://digitalrightsfoundation.pk/wp-content/uploads/2020/05/Annual-Reort-2019..pdf

Policy Initiatives

Personal Data Protection Bill Recommendations

DRF submitted a thorough legal analysis of the ‘Personal Data Protection Bill 2020’. Within the bill recommendations were given to the government on how to further strengthen the bill. DRF also developed a video series around the bill to explain key terms and concerns within the bill.

Read the entire analysis here:

https://digitalrightsfoundation.pk/wp-content/uploads/2020/05/PDPB-2020_-Final-Analysis_05.05.2020-1.pdf

Statement on accountability in Waziristan honour killings

Two women were killed in the name of honor in Waziristan when a man leaked a short video of the two on social media. The video was leaked without the girls consent and contained private imagery. DRF released a statement expressing its outrage over this and demands that justice be served in this case.

Read the full statement here:

https://digitalrightsfoundation.pk/digital-rights-foundation-urges-for-accountability-in-waziristan-honour-killings/

Statement on Violations of Privacy & Condemns Moral Policing in Uzma Khan case:

DRF released a statement expressing its concerns around the privacy violations and moral policing of actress Uzma Khan. Uzma Khan’s video of being bullied in her own home was leaked without her consent and is a clear violation of her privacy. The video let to her character assassination and slut-shaming that is common in cases where women assert their bodily autonomy outside the bounds of marriage.

Read the full statement here:

https://digitalrightsfoundation.pk/digital-rights-foundation-is-gravely-concerned-with-the-violations-of-privacy-condemns-moral-policing-in-uzma-khan-case/

Media Engagement

Digital rights activist Nighat Dad part of Facebook's 'supreme court' for content

DRF is proud to announce that our ED Nighat Dad is now a part of Facebook’s newly announced oversight board to oversee decisions regarding content published on the social media network and Instagram. Nighat is one of 20 board members across the globe promoting women rights, human rights and freedom of expression on the board.

Read the full article here:

https://www.dawn.com/news/1555236/digital-rights-activist-nighat-dad-part-of-facebooks-supreme-court-for-content

Pakistan's 'honor killings' show women need digital skills, says Facebook oversight board member

Nighat Dad spoke to Thomson Reuters Foundation news about the honour killings of two girls in Waziristan over a leaked video online. She highlighted how the internet can be used against women and this is especially true in a patriarchal society like Pakistan.

Read the full article here:

https://news.trust.org/item/20200521151630-xewbx

Article on privacy concerns with tech to tackle Covid-19

DRF’s Shmyla Khan and Zainab Khan Durrani wrote about the framework of the data protection bill and why this may be a cause of concern for citizens. The two also talked about the emergence of invasive technology to tackle the virus and why it is important for citizens to be vigilant.

Read the full article here:

https://www.thenews.com.pk/tns/detail/659111-pandemic-tech-and-privacy-concerns

Events and Sessions

Coronavirus and Children Series

DRF’s Executive Director Nighat Dad spoke on UNICEF’s webinar on ‘Coronavirus & Children Series’ highlighting how access to ICTs is a fundamental right for everyone. She also spoke about the prevalent inequalities in online spaces in Pakistan and how girls in Pakistan are under more scrutiny online as compared to boys.

Drawing lessons from COVID 19

DRF spoke at a webinar of Reporters Without Borders (RSF) on drawing lessons from COVID19 on account of world press freedom day. DRF’s ED Nighat highlighted the unequal access of information between the urban and rural and how this in itself has created a hierarchy amongst citizens. She also highlighted the rise of misinformation in times of COVID in Pakistan and how this can be a problem during the pandemic.

Fireside Chat with Nighat Dad

The NEST I/O startup pulse hosted a fireside chat with DRF’s Nighat Dad with Jehan Ara. The two discussed the workings of the data protection bill and cyber crime laws in Pakistan. There was also a discussion around online hate speech and how to curb it in times of COVID.

Inequalities: Bridging the Divide

Nighat Dad spoke at the #UN75 dialogue on ‘Inequalities: Bridging the Divide’ with 200 students, faculty and participants of NUST university from across the globe. Nighat spoke about the inequalities across the internet along with the legal and gender based inequalities in Pakistan. She also shed light on the inequalities on freedom of expression in the country.

Read more about the session here:

https://nation.com.pk/29-May-2020/nust-hosts-un75-dialogue

Pandemic Contact Tracing, privacy and data protection

DRF participated in the virtual #ImpactTalk that focused on issues with contact tracing applications from the perspective of data protection and civil rights. It was pointed out by the speakers that while it is important to address the public health emergency caused by the COVID-19 pandemic, a balance needs to be struck with civil liberties both in the short and long term. This is particularly important in the South Asian context where there is a dearth of data protection regulations and privacy rights.

TWEETCHAT: Feminist Responses to the “Bois Locker Room”

DRF participated in a Tweetchat on May 27, 2020 organised by “End Cyber Abuse” which focused on the issue of masculinities and their manifestation in online spaces, particularly in light of the “Bois Locker Room” incident in India.

Giving Tuesday ChaynHQ

Chayn raised funds for its friends and partners on a great initiative called ‘Giving Tuesday’. Chayn raised money for the cyber harassment helpline which provides three basic services to its callers which is digital security, legal aid and psychological counselling.

DRF Collaborated With Accountability Labs 

We worked with Accountability Labs on one of their issues of their ‘Pakistan Coronavirus CivAct  Campaign’ Newsletter. This particular issue was about digital safety and security during this pandemic. This newsletter went through the types of attacks that people were facing through the lockdown and what they can do both in a preventative manner and in a defensive manner.

COVID Updates

Cyber Harassment Helpline

The Cyber harassment helpline is working virtually and has started taking calls from Monday till Friday 9 am till 5 pm. The helpline number is 0800-39393 and the helpline provides three basic services which are legal help, psychological assistance and digital security assistance.

Ab Aur Nahin

In times of COVID19 domestic abuse is at an all time high where victims do not have anywhere to go to. Ab Aur Nahin is a confidential legal and counselor support service specifically designed for survivors of harassment.

Contact us now:

https://abaurnahin.pk/

IWF Portal:

Digital Rights Foundation (DRF) in collaboration with the Internet Watch Foundation (IWF) and the Global Fund to End Violence Against Children launched a portal to combat children’s online safety in Pakistan. The new portal allows internet users in Pakistan to anonymously report child sexual abuse material in three different languages – English, Urdu, and Pashto. The reports will then be assessed by trained IWF analysts in the UK.

The portal can be access on:

https://report.iwf.org.uk/pk

 

 

May 15, 2020 - Comments Off on April 2020: Online Campaigns and Initiatives 

April 2020: Online Campaigns and Initiatives 

Joint Statement by Digital Rights Foundation and BoloBhi: The Digital Gap During the COVID-19 Pandemic is Exasperating Inequalities

DRF and BoloBhi released a statement regarding the impact of the digital gap during the COVID-19 pandemic and the exclusions that will arise in terms of class, gender, geographical location, ability, and digital literacy.

Read the full statement here:

Joint Statement by Digital Rights Foundation and BoloBhi: The Digital Gap During the COVID-19 Pandemic is Exasperating Inequalities

https://digitalrightsfoundation.pk/the-colombo-declaration-march-6th-2020/

Girls in ICT Day 

DRF launched an online campaign for Girls in ICT Day on 23rd April to encourage more women to be part of the tech industry. The day emphasizes the need for women to be a part of the ICT sector and how women's access to technology is still limited and hindered. DRF asked women in tech about their experiences in tech and why it is important to keep online spaces safe and inclusive for women.

International Women’s Day: Media4Women 2020 Campaign

 DRF joined the global campaign with 48 partners from 21 countries committing to putting gender equality in the media on the local and international agenda. The global theme was Inclusive and Equal Portrayal of Women by the Media.

DRF’s campaign involved a design competition and quotes from network members on the problematic gender stereotypes portrayed by and in the media. The cash prize for the design competition was PKR 15,000, which was won by Amara Sikandar. Here’s her painting.  

About her design, she said, “Media plays an important role in promoting inclusivity and should put in all efforts to include their perspectives and talk about their rights as a step towards them having their lawful rights.”

COVID UPDATES
Cyber Harassment Helpline 

The helpline’s toll-free number is finally operational. Thanks to the PTA, our number is operating remotely, helping our team to continue practicing social distancing while also assisting you all out too! You can now call us from 9 am till 5 pm, Monday to Friday, or email us on helpdesk@digitalrightsfoundation.pk.

IWF Portal

Digital Rights Foundation (DRF) in collaboration with the Internet Watch Foundation (IWF) and the Global Fund to End Violence Against Children launched a portal to combat children’s online safety in Pakistan. The new portal allows internet users in Pakistan to anonymously report child sexual abuse material in three different languages – English, Urdu, and Pashto. The reports will then be assessed by trained IWF analysts in the UK.

The new portal can be found at https://report.iwf.org.uk/pk

Ab Aur Nahin

In times of COVID19 domestic abuse is at an all-time high with women having nowhere to go and ask for help.  Aur Nahin is a confidential legal and counselor support service specifically designed for survivors of abuse. We provide a comprehensive directory of lawyers around the country to provide you with the support and assistance you need. You are not alone, and you do not need to fight alone.

Media Engagement

Spread of Disinformation has increased during lockdowns 

https://www.samaa.tv/video/2020/04/spread-of-disinformation-has-increased-during-lockdown-says-nighat-dad/

https://twitter.com/nighatdad/status/1250405111152730119?s=20

During COVID19 disinformation is putting lives at risk especially when it is repeated and amplified by influential and political leaders, it puts true information at the risk of having an only marginal impact. Our Executive Director Nighat Dad  shares her thoughts about fake news in times of the pandemic.

Events and Sessions

Digital Security During The Pandemic


On 23rd April, DRF alongside our friends at ‘Bolo Bhi’ held an Instagram live session to address concerns following a rise in phishing attacks and sextortion emails. The session was moderated by Bolo Bhi’s Kashaf Rehman and our digital security expert and communications lead, Arslan Athar represented DRF and answered questions regarding digital safety during COVID 19.

 

April 21, 2020 - Comments Off on March 2020: Launch of IWF Pakistan reporting portal

March 2020: Launch of IWF Pakistan reporting portal

Online Campaigns and Initiatives

On March 19, Digital Rights Foundation (DRF) in collaboration with the Internet Watch Foundation (IWF) and the Global Fund to End Violence Against Children launched a portal to combat children’s online safety in Pakistan. The new portal allows internet users in Pakistan to anonymously report child sexual abuse material in three different languages – English, Urdu, and Pashto. The reports will then be assessed by trained IWF analysts in the UK. It is the 33rd portal set up around the world to fight the spread of online child sexual abuse material.

The launch was due to take place in Pakistan and would have been attended by representatives from the British High Commission in Pakistan, as well as representatives from the IWF. However, following the cancellation of flights and public gatherings because of the coronavirus, it was decided a virtual launch would be the best solution.

The new portal can be found at https://report.iwf.org.uk/pk

#EndOnlineChildAbuse

M4W campaign 2020

DRF participated in Media4Women (M4W) 2020 campaign with around 48 partners from 21 countries committing to putting gender equality in the media on the local and international agenda. The campaign was run between March 1st and March 15th and the theme for this year focused on, Inclusive and Equal Portrayal of Women by the Media. Members of DRF’s Network of Women Journalists for Digital Rights shared quotes on challenging problematic gender stereotypes that portrayed women as less important than men, these were shared on all social media platforms of DRF. DRF also conducted a design competition on the global theme for the year and received numerous submissions.

Policy Initiatives

DRF on Citizens Protection (Against Online Harm) Rules 2020

https://www.geo.tv/latest/275191-social-media-rules-digital-rights-group-calls-govts-call-for-consultation-token-to-deflect-criticism

The Citizens Protection (Against Online Harm) Rules, 2020, notified by the Federal Government, was the government's attempt to centralize control of all online content through one central ‘National Coordinator,’ which was granted unprecedented censorship powers. It required all social media companies to have a local presence, obligated them to remove any objectionable material and flag as ‘false’ any content communicated to them as being false by the Coordinator. These rules were made without any consultation with any stakeholders and outrightly infringed the Constitutional rights of privacy and free speech. Realizing the devastating impact these rules would have on the already precarious human rights condition with regards to user privacy and freedom of expression, Digital RIghts Foundation issued a statement condemning these rules followed by a Legal Analysis of the same which was also shared publicly. Apart from other things, it was discussed in the legal analysis how these rules violate fundamental right of privacy and free speech, exceed the scope of, as well as contravene, the legislative enactments under which they were framed.

Joint Statement by Digital Rights Foundation and BoloBhi: The Digital Gap During the COVID-19 Pandemic is Exasperating Inequalities

Joint Statement by Digital Rights Foundation and BoloBhi: The Digital Gap During the COVID-19 Pandemic is Exasperating Inequalities

DRF Contributed To ‘The Colombo Declaration’. South Asian Feminists contribution to the Beijing +25 process and other processes

Feminist organizations from South Asia got together to write out a feminist declaration that would be used to create modern states that champion causes like equality, freedom and privacy. You can read the entire declaration here:

THE COLOMBO DECLARATION (March 6th 2020)

Events and Sessions

DRF holds Gender and Privacy at Government College Sahiwal

DRF conducted an informative session on Gender and Privacy at the Government College in Sahiwal on the 3rd of March, 2020 where an audience of 100+ young men and women were in attendance. The session covered a host of topics around the theme and was well-received.

DRF at ‘Empowering Women to fight disinformation’

DRF in collaboration with Global Neighborhood For Media Innovation (GNMI) conducted a session on empowering women to fight disinformation- coming together to combat fake news on 4th March 2020 in Lahore. The session focused on how fake news manifests itself in online spaces and the importance of source verification for not only journalists but also common citizens of the country. The audience included female journalists and media practitioners.

DRF at ‘Bridging Gaps between GBV Survivors and Response Services’

Dastak Charitable Trust held an event, titled: ‘Bridging Gaps between GBV Survivors and Response Services' in which they brought together their first responders and community workers with organizations and institutes in a bid to better inform them and give them a chance to exchange information and ask questions about practical elements of the important work they do with domestic abuse victims. DRF was part of the panel and introduced the Cyber Harassment Helpline to the audience. Informational material was also distributed to the participants of the event.

Other participant organizations and institutions were the police, PCSW, a mental health care helpline, HRCP, AGHS, amongst others.

DRF at FNF’s seminar on ‘Strengthening NGOs: Strategy, Management and Fundraising’


The Friedrich Naumann Foundation (FNF) held a seminar on 'Strengthening NGOs: Strategy, Management and Fundraising' at the International Academy of Leadership (IAF), Gummersbach from 8th March till 20th March.

During the seminar, the participants took a deep dive into what it takes to set up the organisations. All the participants planned for different ways through which they will be able to upsurge and increase the capacity, sustainability and impact of their organisations. Participants were invited to reflect on their organisation’s purpose and vision, and explore the concepts of leadership and management. The facilitators discussed their organisational culture and NGOs in Germany i-e Mother-hood, a German initiative for the safety of women and children during the birth. A fundraising workshop with Jonathan Moakes was also held on “Managing Donor Relations and Performance Management Plans.”

Media Engagement

Battling for women rights online in midst of patriarchy

AFP wrote a piece on DRF’s executive director Nighat Dad on her work related to women rights and digital rights in Pakistan. The article uncovers Nighat’s journey as an activist and also sheds light on the formation of the Digital Rights Foundation. You can read the full article here:

https://www.dawn.com/news/1537944

‘How to Pakistan’ podcast CHAYN

Our Executive Director Nighat Dad was part of the podcast ‘How to Pakistan’ by Chayn which focuses on the #metoo movement in the country. The podcast in available in both urdu and english here:

https://twitter.com/ChaynHQ/status/1232575812228067328?s=20

COVID Updates

Helpline Virtually Available amid Coronavirus pandemic

In wake of the Pandemic COVID 19, Digital Rights Foundation decided to take all the precautionary measures necessary to prevent the spread of this infection, prioritizing both the health of its team members and its callers by shifting the operations of Cyber Harassment Helpline virtual and responding to complaints through emails and social media platforms. Contact us through our email helpdesk@digitalrightsfoundation.pk

March 19, 2020 - Comments Off on DRF in collaboration with the World Economic Forum conducted the Mobilizing and Inspiring Action with Technology 2020

DRF in collaboration with the World Economic Forum conducted the Mobilizing and Inspiring Action with Technology 2020

WEF

Digital Rights Foundation and the World Economic Forum in collaboration with institutional partners hosted a first of its kind event in Kathmandu from February 19-21, 2020. This event brought together participants from across South Asia and the rest of the world to discuss the implications of digital and emerging technologies for organizations promoting advocacy and mobilizing people-powered action in the context of the Fourth Industrial Revolution.

DRF Collaborated with PJA on hosting a session addressing online gender based violence with Punjab Judicial Academy (PJA) in a conference on Cyber Law


DRF took part in the Punjab Judicial Academy (PJA) titled “Cyber Law” and hostes a panel titled “Digital violence against gender-based marginalised communities” in collaboration with PJA. The conference was attended by the Lahore High Court Chief Justice, Justice Mamoon Rashid Sheikh, and the Chief Justice of the Supreme Court of Pakistan, Justice Gulzar Ahmed. The conference was attended by nearly 300 judges and included both local and international experts.

DRF Executive Director, Nighat Dad spoke at the conference on ‘Social Media And Ways To Promote Freedoms And Protect Activists’

https://www.thepeninsulaqatar.com/article/19/02/2020/Call-for-enhanced-coordination-between-CSOs-to-protect-digital-rights

At a talk titled ‘Identification of future activities to broaden civic spaces on social media’, Nighat Dad talked about how there is a need to bring together CSOs from across South Asia and have them work together. She said that South Asia is faced with many issues of digital rights, and working together can help bride those gaps.

DRF wins the 6th eNGO Challenge Award 2019-2020.

DRF won under the category of the best Civil Society Digital Innovator. The 6th eNGO Challenge Awards was organized by the Digital Empowerment Foundation in New Delhi, India.

DRF at FNF’s panel discussion on fake news

Digital Rights Foundation participated in a panel discussion hosted by Friedrich Nauman Foundation on the launch of the urdu version of their book, “What can be done to counter Fake News?". The panel discussion was held on 22 February 2020 at PNCA during the Mother Language Literature Festival and had Maryam Saeed from DRF, Asad Baig from Media Matters for Democracy and Gulmina Bilal from Individual Land. It was attended by I.A. Rehman, Afrasiab Khattak and Fauzia Saeed among many other activists from the civil society organisations.

DRF at Human Rights Situation in Pakistan: Challenges and Opportunities

Digital Rights Foundation attended a seminar on the current human rights situation in the country on 13th February organized by EU. The seminar had UN Special Rapporteur Michel Frost as the chief guest of the event. DRF also took part in NHRF Grantee workshop on 14th to 15th February in Islamabad. The workshop focused on learning and sharing of NHRF partners in the country.

Cyberbullying session in Beaconhouse Bahria Town Campus

Digital Rights Foundation conducted a seminar with students of Bahria Town O-levels around cyber bullying and harassment. Two sessions were conducted with the students on 26th February one with boys and the other with girls. The session focused on why it is important for children to keep their information personal online and the implications of cyber bullying on children.

DRF at ‘Maati Talks’ discussing Web and OTT Rules by PEMRA

Zainab Durrani represented the DRF team on a panel discussion for the web show ‘Maati Talks’ which was focused on discussing the proposed Web and OTT Rules by PEMRA and the implications of enacting said Rules on web content, content creators and the impact on the legal landscape that has the ability to curtail fundamental rights such as freedom of speech and right to information.

Training on Combating Insecurities in the Age of Digital Media Transformations


DRF organized a workshop for journalists on ‘’Combating Insecurity in the Age of Digital Media Transformations’’ in Peshawar on the  26th and 27th of February 2020. The aim of the workshop was to discuss if the existing media ethics are suitable for the evolving digital media landscape or new and diverse standards are required. Around 25 journalists from print, electronic and digital media joined and actively participated in the two-day workshop. Participants gave their input on how to tackle fake news and disinformation online, considering the low levels of digital literacy among the population in Pakistan which makes it vulnerable to all kinds of online and digital propaganda, and also discussed ways forward in developing the media industry.

Statement: DRF Condemns Citizen’s Protection (Against Online Harm) Rules 2020 as an Affront on Online Freedoms

DRF Condemns Citizen’s Protection (Against Online Harm) Rules 2020 as an Affront on Online Freedoms

Digital Rights Foundation released a statement condemning the recent ‘Citizen Protection (Against Online Harm) Rules 2020 which were notified by the Ministry of Information Technology. Click here to read the full statement.

 

 

February 10, 2020 - Comments Off on January 2020: DRF released its latest report on fake news

January 2020: DRF released its latest report on fake news

Digital Rights Foundation released its report titled, ‘Sifting Truth from Lies in the Era of Fake News’,  on 15th January 2020. The study attempts to identify topics that are more susceptible to fake news, and common methods of its dissemination. It also examines the extent of fact-checking practiced in Pakistan’s newsrooms and how often do journalists believe fake news to be true.

Based on the experiences of 152 journalists and activists, who participated in a survey for the research, the report found that over 88per percent respondents identified social media platforms as the least worthy source of information with WhatsApp being a top choice. Eight percent of journalists said that no one fact-checked in the newsroom they worked at. The report can be accessed here. A policy brief was also released to be shared with key stakeholders and can be accessed here. The launch of the report was also widely covered in the media.

Understanding cyber harassment through a gendered lens - one day training session with Federal Investigative Agency (FIA) Cybercrime Wing, Karachi

On January 23, 2020 DRF conducted a training session  ‘Understanding cyber harassment through a gendered lens’ in collaboration with UN Women for FIA cyber crime representatives in Movenpick hotel, Karachi.  The ubiquitousness of harassment cases was discussed delineating its reasons viz; anonymity of users, gender hierarchy, lack of digital literacy, and victim-blaming. Session 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, to build an insight around the fears and apprehensions of the victims that need to be addressed while building the victims’ trust in the procedure, and to address their queries regarding cyber harassment laws (PECA, 2016) and their prosecutorial shortcomings.

Combating Insecurity in the Age of Digital Media Transformations in Lahore

DRF organized a workshop for journalists on ‘’Combating Insecurity in the Age of Digital Media Transformations’’ at Park Lane Hotel, Lahore on 13th and 14th January 2020. The aim of the workshop was to discuss if the existing media ethics are suitable for the evolving digital media landscape or new and diverse standards are required. Around 24 journalists from print, electronic and digital media joined and actively participated in the two-day workshop. Participants gave their input on how to tackle fake news and disinformation online, considering the low levels of digital literacy among the population in Pakistan which makes it vulnerable to all kinds of online and digital propaganda.

DRF, alongside other major citizen groups and NGOs, released a public statement against proposed PEMRA laws

After much discussion, DRF and other advocacy groups came together to raise their voice and concern over proposed draft PEMRA regulations which are widely seen as draconian and as major impediments to freedom of speech, and creativity. The entire statement can be found here:

Citizens Groups, Journalists’ Body & Others Reject PEMRA’s Draconian Proposed Draft Regulations On Web TV & Other Allied Attempts

Session at Digital Literacy Camp for Young Opinion Leaders by Interactive Resource Centre

DRF delivered a session on “Understanding Social Media in the Age of Misinformation and Insecurity” at the Interactive Resource Centre on January 31 with content creators from across Pakistan where we spoke about digital rights education, the online right to freedom of expression and privacy, and digital safety.

Participated in launch of ‘End Cyber Abuse’ portal and Webinar

DRF contributed to the making of the ‘Pakistan Factsheet for “End Cyber Abuse”, which provide details regarding all legal remedies available to citizens in each country when faced with online abuse and violence. These fact sheets can be accessed here: http://endcyberabuse.org/country-factsheets/

DRF also participated in a webinar titled "A Spotlight on Legal Remedies for Survivors of Image-Based Sexual Abuse Worldwide” on January 28th where we discussed the legal regime in Pakistan and the challenges that victims face in reporting cases of online violence. A recording of the webinar can be found here: https://thomsonreuters.webex.com/recordingservice/sites/thomsonreuters/recording/fc889b1833b8412e895447dd217a93eb.

Session on Domestic Violence by Lincoln Corners at “Peacetivity”

DRF conducted an awareness session on domestic violence laws in Pakistan via weblink on January 11. The event was organised by Lincoln Corners at “Peacetivity”. The session covered the legal regime in each province, particularly Sindh, as well as the resources women have when reporting instances of online harassment.

DRF was a signatory to the APC’s Open Letter to the United Nations.

The purpose of this open letter was to raise our voice and concern over a proposed international convention against cyber crime that could impede on human rights online.

The details of this can be seen here:

https://www.apc.org/en/pubs/open-letter-un-general-assembly-proposed-international-convention-cybercrime-poses-threat-human

DRF’s Executive Director, Nighat Dad took part in Esra’a Al Shafei’s podcast titled ‘Why We’re Pissed’.

Esra’a is a Bahraini Civil Rights Activist and Blogger. Her podcast, ‘Philantropi$$ed’ takes a critical look at the NGO sector worldwide. You can listen to her and Nighat’s fascinating conversation here:

Episode #1: Why We’re Pissed

DRF’s Executive Director, Nighat Dad, was selected for the prestigious International Leaders Programme (ILP).

The ILP identifies global leaders and invites them to the United Kingdom for high level meetings, briefings and diplomatic visits. Nighat is the first digital rights activist to be chosen for the ILP from Pakistan.

Before leaving for the program, Nighat Dad met with the British High Commissioner Dr. Christian Turner in Islamabad.

During the ILP, Nighat Dad took part in multiple high level meetings, and met with other activists and leaders who are working on digital rights. Nighat Dad also met with Baroness Helena Kennedy and had a productive conversation about civil liberties online and a collective way forward in the promotion of digital rights and online freedom of speech.

 

January 22, 2020 - Comments Off on December 2019: Digital Rights Foundation conducts its Sixth National Conference on Privacy: #PrivacyIsARight

December 2019: Digital Rights Foundation conducts its Sixth National Conference on Privacy: #PrivacyIsARight

Digital Rights Foundation (DRF) conducted its Sixth National Conference on “Privacy: #PrivacyIsARight” on December 7, 2019 in Islamabad to discuss issues relating to artificial intelligence, and algorithmic decision-making in the context of privacy rights. The event was supported by one of our key partners, the Friedrich Naumann Foundation. The keynote address was delivered by former senator Faratullah Babar. The conference featured the Glass Room Exhibit which featured interactive installations such as “The Zuckerburg House”, “The Empire”, “A Data-Day”, “Fake or Real” and “The Real Life of Your Selfie” which were supported by Tactical Tech as part of its global exhibit.

A panel discussion on the topic “The Future of Tech: AI and Algorithms in the Context of the Criminal Justice System & Social Justice” was conducted to tackle the issue of emerging technology such as artificial intelligence and algorithmic decision-making from a human rights perspective. The panelists included Dr. Maryam Mustafa, Dr. Muhammad Nadeem, Rahma M Mian and Aleena Alavi.

The event also included a vibrant debate on the proposition “This House Believes That (THBT): Sentencing by judges should be delegated to algorithms”. Oves Anwar (RSIL), Mujtaba Hussain (KPITP) and Usama Khilji (BoloBhi) spoke in favour of the motion. A team of Malaika Raza, Aniqa Arshad and Zoya Rehman argued against the proposition.

Press Conference with Joint Action Committee on Dec 16

DRF took part in a press conference as part of the Joint Action Committee (JAC) to highlight the issue of shrinking spaces in Pakistan, especially the lack of freedoms for civil society. Speakers at the conference included representatives from HRCP, WISE, AGHS Legal Cell, South Asia Partnership Pakistan (SAP-PK), SAFMA and several others. DRF particularly highlighted the shrinking online spaces and how it was impacting other fundamental freedoms enjoyed by citizens.

National Feminist Legal Theory and Practice Training (NFLTP)-Pakistan

DRF took part in the NFLTP organised by HomeNet from December 17th till 19th. Jannat Ali Kalyar and Shmyla Khan attended the conference as representatives from DRF. The workshop focused on feminist approaches to the law, covering a wide range of issues relating to international human rights law, intersectionality, the feminist movement in Pakistan and critiques of laws aimed at addressing gender-based issues in Pakistan.

Nighat in Women of the World Festival

DRF’s Executive Director Nighat Dad took part in the ‘Women of the World’ Festival in Karachi, and took part in a panel discussion titled, ‘Feminism in the Digital Age’. This panel aimed to bring to light issues of access to the internet as well as how the the feminist movement has played out in digital spaces.

Privacy series with TNS:

As part of our work on data privacy and data protection, we partnered with ‘The News on Sunday’ to publish opinion pieces about the topic. The aim with these articles was to help create awareness, and further public discourse on the matter.

https://www.thenews.com.pk/tns/detail/586618-cyber-insecurityhttps://www.thenews.com.pk/tns/detail/579980-under-the-watchful-eye

DRF conducts session at Mehran University of Engineering and Technology, Jamshoro

DRF conducted a session on 3rd December with students and admin of Mehran University of Engineering and Technology at the USPCAS-W Auditorium. The session titled Hamara Internet: Online Spaces; Challenges and Opportunities had 174 students from the institute. The session highlighted the current digital rights discourse in the country along with a need for a data protection bill in the country. Students shared their experiences of online harassment and harassment in general and also highlighted the pivotal role of each citizen to make online spaces safe for all.

DRF conducted session at Iqra University, North Campus, Karachi

DRF conducted a session on 4th December with students and admin of Iqra University, North Campus, Karachi. The session was with 92 students and teachers on campus. The session highlighted the impact of online violence in offline spaces and how certain communities are vulnerable online. There was a much needed debate around the current cybercrime legislation in the country and also the need for a data protection bill.

Landmark Judgement regarding Right To Information and Privacy passed by Pakistan Information Commission.

The Chief Information Commissioner passed a landmark order in December 2019 which can be seen as a major win in the area of privacy and data rights. The judgement is as follows:

“All Public Information Officers designated under Section 9 of the Right of Access to Information Act 2017 are directed not to demand the provision of certified copy of CNIC when an applicant mentions that s/he is citizen of Pakistan. A Public Information Officer can only demand production of CNIC when it is warranted by objective grounds, i.e. a request for information seems to have been filed from abroad.”

In the proceedings of the appeal, DRF’s Executive Director Nighat Dad acted as Amicus Curie, and added her  input. She talked about the current legal landscape regarding privacy, which in Pakistan is covered under Article 14 of the Constitution. Nighat Dad also talked about how there are no data protection laws in the country, a matter that has led to private citizen’s data being compromised, as seen in the case of Khyber Pakhtunkhwa’s online citizen portal and its corresponding app. Additionally, she added the following, ‘Until and unless a robust data protection law is enacted, collection of private information, unless explicitly required, should not be collected. Furthermore, making CNIC as a requirement for access to a fundamental right, such as the right to information, is too onerous a restriction.’

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.