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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:

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:

No Consultation Without Withdrawl of Rules:

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:

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:

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:

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:

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:

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:

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:

Press coverage of brief:

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:

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:

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:

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:

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:

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:


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:

Candid with P@SHA - Ep-4 - The Personal Data Protection Bill

In the Next Episode of Candid with P@SHA, we have a Live Panel Discussion on "The Personal Data Protection Bill 2020 - How will it impact Individuals and Corporate?"Our panelists are:- Syed Junaid Imam - Member IT, Ministry of IT&T- Saifullah Khan - Managing Partner, S.U.Khan Associates Corporate & Legal Consultants and Member of P@SHA Legal Committee- Nighat Dad - Founder at Digital Rights Foundation- Badar Khushnood - Co-Founder Bramerz (Pvt.) Ltd.This session will be moderated by Mujeeb Zahur - MD, S&P Global & VC P@SHACatch us LIVE this Monday (June 8th, 2020) at 04:00 PM on P@SHA's Facebook Page for an in-depth analysis!From the event page linked below, you can add a reminder to your calendar: Event: #COVID19 #LIVEDiscussion #DataProtectionBill

Posted by Pakistan Software Houses Association on Monday, June 8, 2020


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:

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 [email protected]. 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.

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.


Published by: Digital Rights Foundation in Newsletter

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