All Posts in Freedom house

December 4, 2014 - Comments Off on Freedom on the Net 2014 – Pakistan’s Scores Going from Bad to Worse

Freedom on the Net 2014 – Pakistan’s Scores Going from Bad to Worse

Freedom on the Net 2014 – Pakistan’s Falling Scores on Internet Freedom Ranking

Lahore, December 4, 2014: The latest Freedom on the Net report of Freedom House that is conducted in 60 countries around the world shows declining scores for Pakistan. Inclusion of online spaces as evidence in the draconian laws of Blasphemy while having no strong legal-cyber framework and implementation of technologies to censor political and social content remain the worrying highlights of this year's Net Freedom report.

FoTN 2014 report was meticulously researched by Digital Rights Foundation, Pakistan along with the research analysts of Freedom House. This report is an attempt to compile and assess the limits on content, violations of user rights in Pakistan, and overall Net Freedom in the country. Here are some of the highlights of Freedom on the Net 2014 report on Pakistan:

  • Four women were brutally killed for using mobile technology in rural areas of Pakistan
  • Citizen Lab researchers found Netsweeper technology automatically blocking political and social content on Pakistan’s largest ISP
  • In April 2014, a judge in Punjab sentenced a Christian couple to death for blasphemy in relation to a text message they deny sending
  • Lawyer Rashid Rehman was shot dead on May 7 after receiving threats for representing a professor jailed on charge of committing blasphemy on Facebook
  • Pakistan started offering faster mobile internet connectivity (limited to urban centers) in the form of 3G and 4G
  • YouTube has been blocked since September 2012 while officials jockey to systematize control over the platform
  • Authorities' newly blocked film details referencing Baloch independence and a gay community website
  • Pakistan Protection Ordinance 2013 (now an Act) categorized unspecified “internet offenses” as terrorism, with suspects subject to arbitrary detention

“Pervasive  and Increased government control on the Internet whether in form of censorship or with new surveillance tactics, is limiting freedom of expression and amplifying self censorship among the internet users in Pakistan. The dangerous trend of introducing draconian and repressive laws to limit the civil liberties in the online space is only an effort to block political dissent and diverse opinions," commented Nighat Dad, Director, Digital Rights Foundation. "Pakistani government should understand that increased Internet censorship and data surveillance can only turn this democratic state into a repressive regime.”

Sanja Kelly, Project Director for Freedom on the Net talking about how legal framework is being constructed at the expense of citizen privacy mentioned, “authoritarian and democratic leaders alike believe the internet is ripe for regulation and passed laws that strengthen official powers to police online content. The scramble to legislate comes at the expense of user rights, as lawmakers deliberately or misguidedly neglect privacy protections and judicial oversight.The situation is especially problematic in less democratic states where citizens have no avenues to challenge or appeal government’s actions”

Pakistan scored 69 points (on a list of 0 to 100, where 100 is worst), two points down from last year's ranking. It is concerning for the civil society and Internet users in the country to see an elected government not respecting citizen's privacy or access to the Internet. Pakistan is in dire need of strong, citizen-centric cyber laws that could protect users from online crimes and false witnesses.

To view full country report of Pakistan, please visit Freedom on the Net, 2014.

– End –

Digital Rights Foundation is a research based advocacy organisation based in Pakistan focusing on ICTs to support human rights, democratic processes and better digital governance. DRF opposes any and all sorts of online censorship and violations of human rights both on ground and online.  We firmly believe that freedom of speech and open access to online content is critically important for the development of socio-economy of the country. www.digitalrightsfoundation.pk

Join the talk on Twitter @digitalrightspk, follow the hashtag #FOTN14 or like us on Facebook!

December 30, 2013 - Comments Off on Study raises concern over internet surveillance

Study raises concern over internet surveillance

Team DRF along with Freedom House international team carried the research on Freedom on the Net 2013 country report. Coverage by Dawn news daily.

Even after the change of government, internet surveillance is expected to remain the same and blockade of some internet services like YouTube may continue in the country. It has been revealed by a study on ‘Freedom on the Net 2013’ conducted by the Digital Rights Foundation (DRF) Pakistan along with research analysts of Freedom House to assess freedom on the net in 60 countries. The DRF has worked for several months to research, compile and assess the limits on contents, violations of user rights and overall internet freedom in Pakistan.

The study report claims that members of civil society have strongly condemned the presence of FinFisher’s Spy tools on the Pakistan Telecommunication Ltd network. The government’s plan to systematise websites blocking has been one of the most worrisome developments in 2012 and this year. It said violations of user rights had been on the rise last year, with cases like the shooting of a 15-year-old blogger and activist Malala Yousufzai. A number of blasphemy cases were also registered, sometimes just to settle business rivalries.

“Pakistan remains one of the worst countries when it comes to online freedom of speech, user rights and citizens’ privacy,” DRF Executive Director Nighat Dad said. “The state has been rigorously trying to implement the best of surveillance setups to create a kind of watchdog upon activists, journalists and a common citizen in the name of war against terrorism. Pakistan’s civil society, despite being faced with threats and vicious consequences, is strongly fighting against the state-employed policies and technologies that can hurt citizens”. According to the report, the upper house of parliament in February granted security agencies permission to monitor private emails and cellphone communications in order to collect evidence of terrorist activities, threatening citizens’ privacy. In areas like Balochistan, activists are even more at threat with plethora of intelligence agencies and the army trying to suppress their voices.

The report found that intelligence agencies had been pressuring the federal government for greater surveillance control and location tracking system. “While all this has been moved forward to fight against terrorists, it is evident that these technologies are used to threaten media personnel and attack activists and other common citizens,” it said.

Originally published on Dawn

December 30, 2013 - Comments Off on Pakistan bottom of the barrel on net freedom: Report

Pakistan bottom of the barrel on net freedom: Report

Team Digital Rights Foundation carried out the research on "Freedom on the Net 2013" Pakistan country report along with the international Freedom House editors and researchers. Tribune Pakistan's coverage:

Government creating and installing new equipment to systemise website blocking and filtering, new report finds. PHOTO: EXPRESS/FILE

KARACHI: Pakistan is among the bottom ten countries in the Freedom on the Net 2013 report, which measures the level of internet and digital media freedom in 60 countries. The annual report is carried out by Freedom House, an independent watchdog organization.

In the new report, each country received a numerical score from 0 (the most free) to 100 (the least free), which serves as the basis for internet freedom status. Pakistan received a score of 67 and status ‘not free’, whereas Iceland was at the top with a score of just 6.

The Pakistan section of the report was conducted just after the elections held on May 11, 2013 and covered the developments regarding internet freedom between the time period May 2012 – April 2013. It was researched and compiled by Digital Rights Foundation, Pakistan along with research analysts of Freedom House.

“Pakistan remains one of the worst countries when it comes to online freedom of speech, user rights and citizens’ privacy”, commented Digital Rights Foundation Executive Director, Nighat Dad.  “In the past year, state has been rigorously trying to implement the best of surveillance set-ups to create a kind of watchdog upon activists, journalists and a common citizen on the name of war against terrorism. Pakistan’ civil society, despite being faced with threats and vicious consequences, is strongly fighting against the state-employed policies and technologies that can hurt Pakistani citizen”.

Main findings

Even though the number of internet users in the country is increasing, the Pakistan reportstates that there have been various political and social obstacles by successive governments that came into power, in the name of fighting terrorism and preserving Islam.

This has caused problems for many civil rights activists, students and other such personnel who want to engage in intensive multimedia training, the report concluded.

According to the report:

“Legal measures also threatened digital rights, particularly over sensitive religious issues. At least two of the 23 criminal investigations launched in 2012 under Pakistan’s strict blasphemy laws—which carry the death penalty—involved content sent by mobile phone. A Twitter spat escalated into a defamation suit after a political website accused a religious leader of inciting hatred”.

Obstacles to access

According to the report, “Low literacy, difficult economic conditions, and cultural resistance have limited the proliferation of ICTs in Pakistan. Poor copper wire infrastructure and inadequate monitoring of service quality by the Pakistan Telecommunication Authority (PTA) have historically stymied the expansion of broadband internet.”

Only urban cities such as Karachi, Lahore, Islamabad and Peshawar have access to better quality broadband services, the report found.

Additionally, the report cited “bureaucratic hurdles” as having caused a problem for development of 3G or 4G networks.

Access to the internet has been deliberately obstructed by the Pakistani authorities in Balochistan where there has been persistent conflict between the Baloch nationalists and the security forces, the report stated.

Limits on content

Some of the major developments by the government in 2012 and 2013 included creating and installing new equipment to systemise website blocking and filtering, the report found.

Despite such blocking, the report concluded that Pakistanis have relatively open access to international news organizations and other independent media, as well as a range of websites representing Pakistani political parties, local civil society groups, and international human rights organizations.

“Nevertheless, most online commentators exercise a degree of self-censorship when writing on topics such as religion, blasphemy, separatist movements, and women’s and LGBT rights,” it added.

Surveillance

Ordinary internet users as well as activists, bloggers, and media representatives in Balochistan are concerned about government surveillance as they feel restricted to openly talk about their religious beliefs, particularly atheists.

In February 2013, the upper house of parliament passed the Fair Trial Act 2012 allows security agencies to seek a judicial warrant to monitor private communications “to neutralize and prevent threat or any attempt to carry out scheduled offenses;” and covers information sent from or received in Pakistan or between Pakistani citizens whether they are resident in the country or not. Under the law, service providers face a one-year jail term or a fine of up to PKR 10 million for failing to cooperate with the warrant.

According to the report, “Pakistan is also reported to be a long-time customer of Narus, a US-based firm known for designing technology that allows for monitoring of traffic flows and deep-packet inspection of internet communications, and some media reports say Pakistani authorities have also acquired surveillance technology from China.”

Originally published on Tribune.

October 26, 2013 - Comments Off on Joint Statement of Civil Society Delegates to the 2013 Internet Governance Forum

Joint Statement of Civil Society Delegates to the 2013 Internet Governance Forum

October 25, 2013

20131026-160847.jpg

Freedom House led a delegation of civil society leaders and online activists from around the world to Bali, Indonesia for the 8th Internet Governance Forum (IGF), the UN's flagship conference for discussing global Internet policy. Following the IGF, 17 organizations and individuals signed on to a joint statement to highlight the concerns they raised throughout the Forum, and to offer recommendations to governments, internet companies, and international organizations on how to better protect internet freedoms. This statement was delivered to the Forum during the Open Mic session on the final day by Bouziane Zaid.

We, the undersigned representatives of a group of civil society leaders worldwide who attended and participated in the 2013 Internet Governance Forum (IGF) on October 22-25 in Bali, Indonesia as part of the Freedom House delegation, make this statement at the meeting’s conclusion to highlight a number of opinions we expressed and concerns we raised throughout the Forum.

The 2013 IGF provided a valuable space for the members of our group to engage with other stakeholder groups, through the Forum’s sessions and also through side meetings and consultations with representatives of governments, businesses, the technical community, multilateral bodies, and civil society organizations from all over the world. We urge all stakeholders to continue to engage and participate in future IGFs, to strengthen the Forum’s multistakeholder process, and to uphold the principles of openness, transparency, and inclusiveness. Without the IGF, there is no comparable venue for civil society to directly raise its perspective and concerns with leaders in the government, the private sector, and the technical community.

We share the sentiment with the vast majority of IGF participants that the Internet governance process can and should be improved, but stress the importance of upholding and strengthening the multistakeholder approach to ensure that the internet remains open, global, secure and resilient. In calling for more efforts to promote, protect, and advocate for human rights online, our group has underscored broad principles and recommendations, such as:

1. All laws, policies, regulations, terms of service, user agreements, and other measures to govern the internet must adhere to international standards of human rights, including but not limited to Article 19 of the UN Declaration of Human Rights, guaranteeing the right to freedom of expression; Article 12, guaranteeing the right to privacy; and Article 20, guaranteeing the right to free association. As an important step, states and other stakeholders must look to Human Rights Council Resolution 20/8 – adopted by consensus in July 2012 – affirming “that the same rights that people have offline must also be protected online, in particular freedom of expression,” and pledging to explore further “how the Internet can be an important tool for development and for exercising human rights.” This applies to ending illicit online surveillance by any government. To be legitimate and lawful, any surveillance must be limited, targeted, used to deter or investigate criminalized activity, and subject to independent judicial oversight.

2. Consistency across the many spaces for discussion around Internet governance issues – including those spaces clustered around regional, sub-regional, national, linguistic, and other groupings – is crucial to ensure the principles of openness, transparency, and inclusiveness are upheld in all venues. This is not multistakeholderism for multistakeholderism’s sake, but rather recognizing the need to represent all voices, perspectives and interests in setting standards, norms, and policies that affect the internet, both locally and globally. The term multistakeholder is overused and applied to a wide range of events, groups and processes. Various international organizations, as well as national governments, must make it a top priority to replace lipservice to multistakeholderism with genuine efforts to bring all stakeholders to the table on equal footing.

3. Transparency and accountability are crucial next steps in the internet governance discussion, and need to be fully implemented by all stakeholder groups. Businesses are beginning to recognize transparency reports as serving their users and their corporate social responsibilities, as well as their bottom-line interests. Governments likewise should ensure that their policies and practices are fully transparent as a means of preserving their legitimacy, credibility, and moral authority with their own citizens and the international community. In instances of content censorship, surveillance, shutting down or deliberate slowing down of networks, and other methods of internet control, these two stakeholder groups must work independently and together to divulge details about these measures and have them open to public debate. In addition, governments should institute strict controls on the export of surveillance and filtering technologies to regimes that have failed to demonstrate a commitment to upholding human rights, while the private sector should take a close look at some of their own practices in this domain. In some countries, bloggers, activists, and other internet users are subject to beatings, imprisonment, and even murder when they post information critical of the authorities.

We thank the government of Indonesia for its warm hospitality and dedicated efforts in successfully hosting the 8th annual meeting of the Global IGF. Despite the confusion during the summer over whether the event would be held in Bali, we were able to convene our delegation of civil society advocates, activists and academics from more than 18 countries. However, three of our colleagues had to cancel their attendance owing to visa issues. The letter granting certain registered participants permission to obtain visas upon arrival in Indonesia came too late, was rejected by airline officials, and was not extended to participants from all countries. For future IGFs, it would be preferable to announce the visa on arrival special procedure well in advance and officially notify the appropriate channels.

Thank you.

Signatories:

- Freedom House
- The Unwanted Witness, Uganda
- Jorge Luis Sierra, México
- Damir Gainutdinov, Russian Federation, AGORA Association
- Nighat Dad, Pakistan, Digital Rights Foundation
- Artem Goriainov, Kyrgyzstan, Public Foundation “Civil Initiative on Internet Policy”
- Giang Dang, Vietnam
- Fatima Cambronero, Argentina, AGEIA DENSI Argentina
- Michelle Fong, Hong Kong, Hong Kong In-Media
- Dalia Haj-Omar, Sudan, GIRIFNA
- Bouziane Zaid, Morocco
- Syahredzan Johan, Malaysia
- Juned Sonido, Philippines
- Myanmar ICT for Development Organization (MIDO)
- Cambodian Center for Independent Media (CCIM)
- Mahmood Enayat, United Kingdom, Small Media
- Abeer Alnajjar, Jordan
- Arzu Geybullayeva, Azerbaijan

October 3, 2013 - Comments Off on ’انٹرنیٹ پر آزادئ اظہار، پاکستان بدترین ملک‘

’انٹرنیٹ پر آزادئ اظہار، پاکستان بدترین ملک‘

ایک بین الاقوامی غیر سرکاری تنظیم کے مطابق، پاکستان انٹرنیٹ کی آزادی سے متعلق درجہ بندی میں 2012 کے مقابلے میں 2013 میں مزید نیچے چلا گیا ہے۔

امریکی غیر سرکاری تنظیم فریڈم ہاؤس کی جمعرات کو شائع ہونے والی رپورٹ ’انٹرنیٹ پر آزادی 2013‘ میں کہا گیا ہے کہ پاکستان میں جمہوری طریقے سے اقتدار کی تاریخی منتقلی کے بعد بھی حکومت نے انٹرنیٹ پر سیاسی و سماجی مواد بلاک کرنے کا عمل جاری رکھا ہے جبکہ موبائل فون اور انٹرنیٹ پر بظاہر نگرانی ہو رہی ہے۔ 

فریڈم ہاؤس کی سالانہ رپورٹ 60 ممالک میں کی گئی تحقیق پر مبنی ہے اور پاکستان سے متعلق اس رپورٹ کا باب غیر سرکاری تنظیم ڈیجیٹل رائٹس فاؤنڈیشن پاکستان اور فریڈم ہاؤس نے مل کر تیار کیا ہے۔

رپورٹ کے مطابق پاکستان ان 34 ممالک میں شامل ہے جہاں انٹرنیٹ کی آزادی کے حوالے سے منفی رجحان پایا گیا ہے۔ پاکستان کا شمار انٹرنیٹ پر آزادی اظہار کے حوالے سے درجہ بندی میں آخری دس ممالک میں ہوتا ہے۔

فریڈم ہاؤس جمہوریت، انسانی حقوق اور سیاسی آزادی پر تحقیق کرتی ہے۔

"انٹرنیٹ پر آزادئ اظہار، صارفین کے حقوق اور شہریوں کی پرائیوسی یا نجی زندگی کے حوالے سے پاکستان کا شمار بدترین ممالک میں ہوتا ہے"

نگہت داد

ڈیجیٹل رائٹس فاؤنڈیشن کی طرف سے جاری ایک پریس ریلیز میں ادارے کی چیف ایگزیکٹو ڈائریکٹر نگہت داد کا کہنا ہے کہ ’انٹرنیٹ پر آزادئ اظہار، صارفین کے حقوق اور شہریوں کی پرائیوسی یا نجی زندگی کے حوالے سے پاکستان کا شمار بدترین ممالک میں ہوتا ہے۔‘

انہوں نے مزید کہا کہ ’گذشتہ برس سے شدت پسندی کے خلاف جنگ کے نام پر ریاست سیاسی کارکنوں، صحافیوں اور عام شہریوں کی نگرانی کے لیے ٹیکنولوجی کا استعمال کرنے کی کوشش کر رہی ہے۔‘

رپورٹ میں کہا گیا ہے کہ ’سنسرشپ سیاسی مقاصد کی عکاسی کرتی ہے‘۔

انٹرنیشنل ٹیلی کمیونکیشن یونین کے مطابق 2012 میں پاکستان کی دس فیصدآبادی انٹرنیٹ استعمال کرتی تھی جبکہ مقامی میڈیا کا کہنا ہے کہ 2013 میں یہ شرح بڑھ کر 16 فیصد ہو گئی ہے جس میں سے 8 فیصد صارفین موبائل فون پر انٹرنیٹ استعمال کرتے ہیں۔

رپورٹ میں کہا گیا ہے کہ سماجی رابطوں کی ویب سائٹس کے ذریعے سٹیزن جرنلزم یا شہری صحافت میں بھی اضافہ دیکھا گیا ہے۔ مثال کے طور پر انتخابات کے دوران دھاندلی کے الزامات کے حوالے سے ویڈیوز اور تصاویر روایتی میڈیا کے بجائے فیس بک اور ٹوئٹر پر پہلے منظرِ عام پر آئیں۔

"پاکستان ٹیلی کمیونیکیشن اتھارٹی کے پاس بلاک ہونے والی ویب سائٹس کی فہرست موجود ہے لیکن تفصیلات نامعلوم ہیں۔ نہ تو کوئی رہنما اصول عام ہیں جس سے بلاک کرنے کی وجہ پتہ چلے اور نہ ہی پابندی لگانے کا طریقۂ کار بتایا جاتا ہے"

فریڈم ہاؤس رپورٹ

فروری 2013 میں فیر ٹرائل ایکٹ قانون سینیٹ میں منظور ہوا جس کے تحت ذاتی رابطوں کی نگرانی کے لیے قانون نافذ کرنے والی ایجنسیاں جوڈیشل وارنٹ حاصل کر سکتی ہیں۔

فریڈم آن دا نیٹ 2013 رپورٹ کا کہنا ہے کہ ’ناقدین نے اس قانون کی مذمت کرتے ہوئے کہا ہے کہ اس کے الفاظ ایسے ہیں کہ قانون کا غلط استعمال آسانی سے ہو سکتا ہے جبکہ کئی ایجنسیوں کو وسیع پیمانے پر اختیارات دیے گئے ہیں۔‘

تاہم وکیل اور سابق عبوری وزیرِ قانون احمر بلال صوفی نے بی بی سی کی نامہ نگار عنبر شمسی کو بتایا کہ پاکستان وہ واحد ملک ہے جس میں سکیورٹی اور شہریوں کے حقوق کے درمیان توازن رکھا گیا ہے۔

’کسی اور ملک میں ہائی کورٹ کے جج کو یہ اختیار نہیں دیا گیا ہے کہ وہ تمام ثبوتوں کی چانچ پڑتال کر کے ہی نگرانی کی اجازت دیں۔‘

ان کا کہنا ہے کہ پاکستان میں اس بات کا غیر معمولی حد تک خیال رکھا گیا ہے تاکہ شہریوں کی انفرادی آزادی اور ریاست کی سکیورٹی قائم کرنے کی ضروریات ساتھ ساتھ ممکن ہوں تاہم اس قانون پر اب تک عمل نہیں ہو پایا کیونکہ متعلقہ جج نامزد نہیں ہوئے۔

اسلام مخالف فلم

پاکستانی حکام کا کہنا ہےکہ یو ٹیوب پر پابندی تب تک رہے گی جب تک گوگل اسلام مخالف فلم ’انوسنس آف مسلمز‘ کو ہٹا نہیں دیتا یا ملک گیر انٹرنیٹ کی چھان بین کا نظام قائم نہیں ہوتا۔

دوسری جانب، یوٹیوب پر اکتوبر 2012 سے عائد کی گئی پابندی بھی ایک بڑی وجہ ہے کہ پاکستان میں انٹرنیٹ سے متعلق شہریوں کے حقوق پر کام کرنے والے کارکنوں نے تشویش کا اظہار کیا ہے۔

رپورٹ کے مطابق پاکستان میں یو ٹیوب کے ساتھ ساتھ بیس ہزار دیگر ویب ساٹس کو بھی بلاک کیا گیا ہے، جن میں بلوچ اور سندھی قوم پرستوں کی ویب سائٹس اور فحش ویب سائٹس شامل ہیں۔

پاکستانی حکام کا کہنا ہےکہ یو ٹیوب پر پابندی تب تک رہے گی جب تک گوگل اسلام مخالف فلم ’انوسنس آف مسلمز‘ کو ہٹا نہیں دیتا یا ملک گیر انٹرنیٹ کی چھان بین کا نظام قائم نہیں ہوتا۔

رپورٹ کے مطابق حکومتِِِ پاکستان نے جنوری 2003 سے آن لائن مواد کو بلاک کرنے کی کوشش کی ہے۔ اس پر تنقید کرتے ہوئے رپورٹ میں لکھا گیا ہے کہ ’پاکستان ٹیلی کمیونیکیشن آتھارٹی کے پاس بلاک ہونے والی ویب سائٹس کی فہرست موجود ہے لیکن تفصیلات نامعلوم ہیں۔ نہ تو کوئی رہنما اصول عام ہیں جس سے بلاک کرنے کی وجہ پتہ چلے اور نہ ہی پابندی لگانے کا طریقۂ کار بتایا جاتا ہے۔‘

October 3, 2013 - Comments Off on Freedom on the Net 2013 Findings: Pakistan’s Internet Freedom Status NOT FREE

Freedom on the Net 2013 Findings: Pakistan’s Internet Freedom Status NOT FREE

Freedom on the Net 2013 - Growing Concerns Over Pakistan's Internet Freedom Status

Lahore, October 3, 2013: With the launch of a new study by Freedom House to assess Freedom on the Net in 60 countries around the world, a growing surge of employing surveillance technologies and restricting  free access by the governments globally can be observed. Freedom on the Net 2013 report on Pakistan confirms the doubts that even with the change of government - after a successful democratic process - rhetoric of tightening Internet surveillance remains the same. YouTube, for example, still remains blocked in the country.

Digital Rights Foundation, Pakistan along with research analysts of Freedom House worked concertedly over past many months to research, compile and assess the limits on content, violations of user rights in Pakistan, and overall Internet freedom in the country. We learnt that government has been keen in bringing in some newer technologies to restrict online content and also have better surveillance powers. Presence of FinFisher's Spy tools in Pakistan on state-owned Pakistan Telecommunication Ltd (PTCL) network was strongly condemned by civil society of the country. Government's plan to systematize website blocking was also one of the most concerning developments of 2012 and 2013.

It was also found that violations of user rights have been on an uptick in the past year in Pakistan with the cases like the shooting at the 15yr old blogger and activist Malala Yousufzai. An increased number of blasphemy cases were also registered, sometimes just to settle business rivalries.

"Pakistan remains one of the worst countries when it comes to online freedom of speech, user rights and citizens' privacy", commented Digital Rights Foundation Executive Director, Nighat Dad.  "In the past year, state has been rigorously trying to implement the best of surveillance set-ups to create a kind of watchdog upon activists, journalists and a common citizen on the name of war against terrorism. Pakistan' civil society, despite being faced with threats and vicious consequences, is strongly fighting against the state-employed policies and technologies that can hurt Pakistani citizen".

The upper house of parliament, in February 2013, granted security agencies permission to monitor private e-mails and mobile phone communications in order to collect evidence of terrorist activity, threatening Pakistani citizen's privacy. In the areas like Baluchistan, activists are even more at threat with plethora of intelligence agencies and Pakistani army trying to cut their voices. Freedom on the Net 2013 report found that intelligence agencies have been pressuring federal government for greater surveillance control and location tracking system. While this all has been moved forward to fight against terrorists, it is evident that these technologies are used to threat media personnel, attack activists and other such factitious activities affecting a common citizen.

To view full country report of Pakistan, please visit Freedom on the Net, 2013.

- End -

Digital Rights Foundation is a research based advocacy organisation based in Pakistan focusing on ICTs to support human rights, democratic processes and better digital governance. DRF opposes any and all sorts of online censorship and violations of human rights both on ground and online.  We firmly believe that freedom of speech and open access to online content is critically important for the development of socio-economy of the country. www.digitalrightsfoundation.pk

Join the talk on Twitter @digitalrightspk, follow the hashtag #FOTN13 or like us on Facebook!