May 04, 2018 - Comments Off on Statement: DRF expresses concerns over the ban on the messaging app Telegram in Pakistan
We at the Digital Rights Foundation (DRF) are extremely concerned regarding the ban on the social media messaging application, Telegram, by the Pakistan Telecommunication Authority (PTA). We are issuing a statement to express our concerns about this ban which curtails the right to communicate in a secure and safe manner.
As per Pakistan Telecommunication Company Limited’s (PTCL) official twitter account, it was confirmed on the 9th of November last year that Telegram had been banned as per PTA’s instructions. This notification was restricted to PTCL’s own network. However multiple attempts by other users as well as our team have led to the confirmation of the fact that the ban is effective across networks.
The need to implement policy that would bar access to a messaging platform similar to WhatsApp is befuddling and seemingly arbitrary.
We believe that such a decision hinders citizen's freedom of expression, which is a base and fundamental right as per Article 19 of our Constitution. It is a fundamental right recognized in countries the world over and was also recognized by ours through ratification of international treaties.
The cloud-based instant messaging service is a close second to WhatsApp in terms of popularity, however it has endearing features of its own, including its secret chat option and ability to send up to 1.5 GB worth of files, that prompts its usage. The security features of the app are its biggest selling point and in today’s world of information leaks and data hacks, it provides something we all desire, no matter what our station in life: some semblance of privacy. Such an avenue for communication without intrusion should definitely remain available to all those who choose to use it. In any case, whether there is an alternate available or not, this blocking off of access is unconscionable, especially in light of the fact that no official notification was made public and neither was any reason provided.
Curtailing access to information is a violation of the civilians’ rights and basic expectations of a democracy. DRF demands the government authorities to provide justification on why was the app blocked and work towards ensuring transparency in such process.