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February 8, 2017 - Comments Off on Internet Freedom, Public Threats, and the Year Ahead

Internet Freedom, Public Threats, and the Year Ahead

January 2017 was one eventful month at Digital Rights Foundation. From protests for and return of the missing activists to hate speech by an acclaimed TV host on live television, from the launch of anti-harassment mobile application by Punjab Government to blocking of a satire website - DRF team has been busy at work throughout. And here's a round-up of all the activities that had our attention:

Missing Activists:

The month of January started out with the troublesome news that five activists had gone missing from Pakistan. Salman Haider (Islamabad), Ahmed Raza Naseer (Nankana), Ahmed Waqas Goraya (Lahore), Aasim Saeed (Lahore) and Samar Abbas (Karachi) all disappeared in the first month of the new year. The reason for their disappearance is still unclear but it is likely that they were targeted on the basis of their online speech. Civil society activists conducted protests all across Pakistan in the wake of these disappearances, and international pressure was also mounted on the government. Digital Rights Foundation also took part in the protest in Lahore.

IMG-20170112-WA0030 (1)By the end of January, reports surfaced that the missing activists had made contact with their families. There are several unanswered questions regarding the disappearances and many of the returned are reluctant to speak out about their ordeal. One of the activists had left the country following his release.

Another worrying aspect of these disappearances were the concerted social media campaigns to malign these missing activists, one that was backed up by the mainstream media and presenters, such as Amir Liaquat.

Amir Liaquat, Free Speech and PEMRA

Amir Liaquat is the host of the program “Aisa Nahi Chalay Ga” on Bol TV. In the month of January, has been accusing several activists and journalists of anti-Pakistani activities as well as levelling blasphemy charges against progressive voices.

After thousands of complaints from citizens, PEMRA (the regulatory agency for electronic media), issued an order banned Amir Liaquat’s appearance any TV channel:

PEMRA's Order to BOL TV

PEMRA's Order to BOL TV

Bol TV however did not immediately comply with PEMRA’s order and continued to air Amir Liaquat’s show despite the hate speech and incendiary content of his speeches.

The Supreme Court of Pakistan has come down hard on Bol and the channel signed an undertaking pledging not to air Amir Liaquat’s show until further notice by the court.

Khabristan Times Blocked in Pakistan

KT

Pakistan’s satire publication, Khabaristan Times (KT) has been blocked in Pakistan since January 25.

Digital Rights Foundation strongly condemned the ban in its official statement and stands in solidarity with the publication.

 

Statement by KT

Statement by KT

Initiatives by the Punjab Government

16684669_1189689211129997_672714307_nThe Punjab government launched its Women Safety Smart Phone Application. The app was launched on January 4, 2017 by the Punjab Safe Cities Authority (PSCA) in collaboration with the Punjab Commission on Status of Women. This application allows allows users to send notifications to the Police Integrated Command, Control and Communication (PPIC3) if there is an incident of harassment and security forces will be dispatched to the location immediately. The application also allows users to mark places and locations as “unsafe”, which will help authorities in planning activities and other users as well.

Digital Rights Foundation attended the launch event for the application. We shall follow up with the developers and the authorities regarding our problems with permissions and privacy policies of the application. The fact that the application gains access to a lot of personal data as displayed in the permissions section, the onus is on the authorities to assure citizens about why the data is collected and how it is securely stored.
WhatsApp Image 2017-02-08 at 13.03.23 (1)WhatsApp Image 2017-02-08 at 13.03.23

The Punjab government also launched around 192 hotspots in three big cities of the province, including Lahore, Rawalpindi and Multan. According to reports, in order to log in citizens will be required to given their name, date of birth, profession and mobile number. Digital Rights Foundation is also concerned about the information that this required for this service and the monitoring of online activity with users are logged into the service.

Internet Shutdown persists in FATA

Digital Rights Foundation was recently alerted to the fact that internet services in Federally Administered Tribal Areas (FATA) have been suspended since June 12, 2016. This denial of internet access to a large segment of Pakistan’s population has gone unexplained by the authorities, and DRF will continue to highlight the issue until services are adequately restored.
You can read our blog post on the issue here.

Safer Internet Day

DRF organized a workshop on account of international Safer Internet Day on the 7th of February in Beaconhouse School System Boys Branch. Seerat Khan, Jannat Fazal and Huda Jilani conducted the workshop with the enthusiastic secondary school students, which was based on cyberbullying and the safety measures children should adopt while using the internet. During the workshop, children also designed posters and wrote about how they felt about cyberbullying. The need of these workshops in schools was recognized and a survey was also conducted to understand the nature of cyberbullying in schools. DRF hopes to expand the project to more schools in the near future.
16652656_1189740877791497_949201035_nunnamed

English Works opening ceremony in Karachi

16142511_10154272452578870_7361294837987059840_nOn January 18, 2017, Hija Kamran - Communications Manager at Digital Rights Foundation, spoke to the students at English Works opening ceremony - a six month English learning course - organised by Evolution in partnership with the U.S. Consulate General Karachi. During her talk, Hija emphasized on the importance and need of Women Rights in Digital Spaces, Cyber Harassment, and how to counter the said harassment. Along with this, Hija also discussed the harassment that Qandeel Baloch faced, and the harassment that 22 year old Naila Rind faces for three months which ultimately led her to commit suicide in her hostel room.
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Seminar by Search for Justice - CAN Pakistan

Huda Jilani, Program Assistant at Digital Rights Foundation, was a speaker and panelist at a seminar conducted by Search for Justice (an initiative by CAN Pakistan) and the Social Work Department at Lahore College University for Women on January 18, 2017. The seminar focused on Online Harassment specifically in context of social media and ways and strategies to avoid it. Mr. Shahid Hassan, a representative of the FIA, was also a speaker at the event.
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Harassment as a Legal Concept in Cyber Law

Shmyla Khan, the Project Head of Cyber Harassment Helpline at Digital Rights Foundation writes,
"Harassment, unfortunately, is a fact of life for many women in spaces other than the place of work. Most public spaces are hostile environments for women. It is for this reason that street harassment is also criminalised under section 509 the PPC in Pakistan. It comes as no surprise that cyber spaces are no different when it comes to the experience of women and minorities. Out of the 3027 cybercrime cases reported to the FIA during August 2014- August 2015, 45% involved electronic violence against women (e-VAW)."

Read the full article "Harassment as a Legal Concept in Cyber Law" here.


 

December 17, 2012 - Comments Off on DAY 8 | LOVE LETTERS TO END VIOLENCE | SEND YOUR THOUGHTS

DAY 8 | LOVE LETTERS TO END VIOLENCE | SEND YOUR THOUGHTS

Image by Moon RhythmLetter writing can be a powerful form of storytelling. When we sit down to write a letter, we take the time to think about our life, and how it connects with the person we are writing the letter to. We share small details, events and anecdotes about the things that have happened to us that are at the same time unimportant but deeply meaningful because it says something about a moment captured and exchanged through a story.

We think about the person we are writing to, hold them in our mind, and put into words what they mean to us. We offer our attention, presence and time. Letters can contain all of these and be read again and again. Letters can contain a moment in history. They can move us into empathy, drive us into action, or be just the thing to stop us from stumbling into despair.

For today’s action, write a love letter to someone about ending violence against women. This can be a love letter to your daughter to share what you’ve learnt about dealing with sexual discrimination, or your best friend about acceptance of our own bodies, or to someone who shared her experience through a blog post or a story from our campaign map to let her know you are really listening and that you can find courage together, or to your Prime Minister to ask her/him to care enough to make a real difference, or even to a stranger.

 

 

Write it, post it, or leave it around the places you move around in today for people to find.

Scan or copy it and share it with us here (email, upload to site).

Or if you have come across inspiring open love letters, share them here or on send us the link on Twitter (#takebackthetech #16stories).

Offer your time, love and solidarity. Take Back the Tech!

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Here are two posts we would like to share with you as our love letter to individuals and activists who are committed to creating a world free from violence against women:

Here I sit, head bent, writing you an intimate letter. I sense your presence, even though I don't know your name. I envision you as a young woman, possibly a young man, somewhere between the ages of eighteen and thirty-five, but you may also be a decade older--or younger--than that. You may not yet be born.

Perhaps I am trying to speak to my own younger self. When I was coming of age--a process which is still far from over--no one ever spoke strong truths to me in a loving voice. When I was your age, I did not know what I needed to know in order to understand my life--anybody's life. Perhaps, in writing to you, I wish to correct that, to make amends... “

- Continue reading “Letters to a young feminist

“A year back, I became romantically involved with a man. It was a long distance relationship. When I met him, he seemed to be someone who was extremely liberal in his outlook even though he comes from a rather conservative background. He was everything I could ask for. Educated, established and outgoing. For me beauty is not about looks but how a person is at heart. Hence it does not make sense for me to comment on his looks here. But, physical beauty is the only thing he was looking for in me when I met him. This however, I understood much later...."

- Continue reading “Donna’s story”, submitted to us as part of this year’s campaign, which reads as a love letter to women and girls all over the world who has ever felt loss of control over their own bodies in the name of love, and regained it.