DIGITAL PAKISTAN MONITOR – September 2022
A monthly report on trends relating to digital rights, policies, practices & media
Tracking: Internet and digital policies and regulations
Digitalization in governance and socio-economic domains
Digital rights violations and protections
Digital rights advocacy and defense
Digital media and online free speech
Vol. 3, No. 9 – September 2022 Edition
Produced by Freedom Network – www.fnpk.org
SECTION 1: Internet and digital policies and regulations
- Federal and provincial governments (ministries and departments)
- Internet regulators
- Media regulators
- Telecom regulators
- Internet access / connectivity
Telecommunication services in Pakistan’s flood-hit areas restored
Date: September 4, 2022 – Source: Dawn
The Pakistan Telecommunication Authority (PTA) announced that telecommunication and broadband services in the country’s flood-hit areas had been largely restored as the number of affected mobile sites dropped to 568, just 1.1 per cent of the total sites.
Government approves bidding for 11.2MHz spectrum in Pakistan
Date: September 17, 2022 – Source: The News
The Auction Spectrum Committee (ASC), through its official minutes, granted approval for holding sole bidding to sell the 11.2 MHz spectrum for a period of ten years.
SECTION 2: Digital rights advocacy and defense
- Pakistan-based citizens and civil society organizations
- Independent international digital rights organizations
- UN and global multilateral organizations
- Governmental and other sources
Why PTA’s decision to register VPN’s should concern all Pakistanis
Date: September 12, 2022 – Source: Dawn
The issue with Pakistan Telecommunication Authority’s (PTA) vision of the internet in Pakistan is that it only views it from a security and business lens, completely ignoring citizens’ basic right to freedom of speech, right to privacy and right to access to information, which are constitutionally protected.
SECTION 3: Digital rights violations and protections
- Citizens and netizens – including case studies
- Media, journalists and other information practitioners
- Online free speech
- Online access to information
- Privacy violations
- Data protection
- Misinformation / disinformation / fake news
YouTube services face disruption across Pakistan during PTI’s political rally
Date: September 7, 2022 – Source 1: Dawn, Source 2: Arab News
YouTube services became inaccessible on most Internet Service Providers (ISPs) operating across Pakistan as Pakistan Tehreek-i-Insaf (PTI) chairman Imran Khan was about to address a political rally in Islamabad.
Parliamentary body takes notice of social media campaigns against Pakistan’s lawmakers
Date: September 13, 2022 – Source: Dawn
The National Assembly Standing Committee on Information and Broadcasting took serious notice of ‘regular media campaigns’ being launched against parliamentarians on social and electronic media platforms.
Lahore High Court seeks report on social media regulation
Date: September 15, 2022 – Source: The News
The Lahore High Court (LHC) Rawalpindi bench sought a report on the regulation of social media and removal of blasphemous material from online platforms in Pakistan.
Sale of sauce with pork content: Court quashes FIR registered against Pakistani blogger’s post
Date: September 17, 2022 – Source: Dawn
The Lahore High Court (LHC) quashed a first information report (FIR) registered under the electronic crimes law against a man for uploading a video on social media about a super store for allegedly selling a non-halal product.
Pakistani media bodies accuse PTI of using social media as a trolling weapon
Date: September 20, 2022 – Source: The News
The Pakistan Federal Union of Journalists (PFUJ), Karachi Press Club (KPC) and Reporters Without Borders (RSF) regretted a vicious campaign being run through Pakistan Tehreek-i-Insaf’s (PTI) official twitter handle against senior journalists.
Federal government mulls forum to curb women’s cyberbullying
Date: September 24, 2022 – Source: Dawn
The federal government decided to prevent harassment and bullying of women on social media through a policy framework and by creating awareness to help them raise their voice against abusive behavior and vile trolling.
Government refutes plans to ban social media in Pakistan despite ‘misuse’
Date: September 26, 2022 – Source: The News
Advisor to the Prime Minister on Kashmir Affairs and Gilgit-Baltistan Qamar Zaman Qaira said that that the federal government had no plans to impose a ban on the use of social media platforms in Pakistan. He, however, insisted that the misuse of such platforms should be stopped.
Smartphone a perfect bugging device
Date: September 27, 2022 – Source: The News
For espionage, certain listening devices are used but what makes one vulnerable is one’s own smartphone, which can be penetrated without a physical touch and used as a recording device even in the case of secured digital applications like WhatsApp.
SECTION 4: Digitalization
- Digitalization in governance sectors / e-governance
- Digitalization in social and development sectors
- Digitalization in business and commercial sectors
Pakistani pavilion features on Chinese e-commerce platform
Date: September 1, 2022 – Source: Express Tribune
A dedicated digital pavilion featured on China-based JD.com, Asia’s largest e-commerce platform, connecting the country’s products and digital services to international supply chain linkages and technology-driven initiatives.
Pakistan’s telecommunication sector seeks cut in withholding taxes
Date: September 9, 2022 – Source: Dawn
A delegation representing Pakistan’s telecommunication sector requested Federal Minister of Finance Miftah Ismail to remove the prior approval requirement imposed by the State Bank of Pakistan (SBP) for the import of telecommunication equipment and reduce withholding tax from 15 per cent to 8pc.
Traditional internet industry about to collapse?
Date: September 20, 2022 – Source: The News
It appears that the traditional internet industry with its heavy infrastructure is about to collapse. Starlink, which provides internet services through satellites, has abandoned infrastructure, like fiber and poles, is set to provide high-speed internet to seven continents.
OBJECTIVES: This series of monthly report aims to:
- Track developments revolving around the framework of digitalization in Pakistan including policy and advocacy on digital rights, policy enforcements and digital rights violations, covering viewpoints of government, civil society, human rights community including digital rights campaigners, media, citizen journalists and other information practitioners, and regulators of electronic media, internet and telecom sectors, and netizens.
- Monitor the interface between digital rights and Pakistan’s overall legal framework and how developments around them impact freedom of expression and access to information online as well as diversity and pluralism in Pakistan’s digital landscape, cyberspace and internet domains.
- Follow developments around the themes of digital rights, freedom of expression, access to information, privacy, surveillance, data protection, access to internet services, telecom policies, etc.
INFORMATION SOURCES: This report monitors, among others, the following sources of information:
- Government: Federal and provincial cabinets
- Ministries: Related ministries, including Information and Broadcasting, Information Technology (IT) and Telecom, Human Rights, Science and Technology, Commerce and Industry, etc.
- Legislatures: Senate, National Assembly, provincial assemblies, relevant standing committees
- Regulators: Pakistan telecommunications Authority (PTA), Pakistan Electronic Media regulatory Authority (PEMRA), Press Council of Pakistan (PPC), State Bank of Pakistan (SBP), etc.
- Global organizations: UN/Unesco, International Media Support (IMS), Reporters Without Borders (RSF), International Federation of Journalists (IFJ), Committee to Protect Journalists (CPJ), Amnesty International (AI), Human Rights Watch (HRW), etc.
- National organizations: Digital Rights Foundation (DRF), BoloBhi, Media Matters for Democracy (MMFD), Institute for Research, Advocacy and Development (IRADA), Human Rights Commission of Pakistan (HRCP), etc.
- Media: Dawn, The News, Express Tribune, The Nation, Pakistan Today, The Friday Times, etc.
- Social Media: Facebook, Twitter, etc.
- Local networks: Journalists Safety Hubs Network, Alliance on Diversity & Pluralism in Media, etc.
- Research groups: Gallup Pakistan, IPSOS Pakistan, etc.