Since 2007, freedom of expression on the internet has been compromised in Pakistan. The authorities started with blocking blasphemous content, went on to national security issues, then religious morality, and they are now targeting online content pertaining to minorities.
The Association for Progressive Communications and its member group in Pakistan, Bytes For All, is deeply concerned about Google’s latest business trip to Pakistan. Here are a few questions on Google’s planned policy on data retention and collection.
The Government of Pakistan is working to revive and restructure the cyber crime law, which lapsed in 2009. Stakeholders who are being consulted are corporations such as telecom operators, ISPs, and governmental organisations. However, no representative civil society organisation holds an opinion even though it is a globally accepted norm that governments use a multi-stakeholder process to ensure active participation by civil society.
Bytes for All, APC’s member in Pakistan, has written an open letter to the Prime Minister and the Pakistan Telecommunication Authority criticising the proposed plan to filter keywords in sms messages.
The Pakistan Telecommunications authority has issued a directive to all cellular providers to begin filtering SMS keywords, the latest in a series of restrictions to freedom of expression in the country.
The Express Tribune has named 5 Take Back the Tech! campaigners as among the most influential “Twitterati” in Pakistan. Thanks to the MDG3 funding, these women are using ICTs to raise the visibility of violence against women on and offline.
Pakistani authorities have blocked Rolling Stone magazine’s website for criticising the country’s level of military spending. But other banned sites are back online, APC has been informed.
On May 13 2011, the Lahore High Court in Pakistan ruled that Facebook and other websites were in violation of Pakistan’s blasphemy laws and should be banned in the country. Curious to understand more about this ruling, Clea Caulcutt of Radio France International’s Web Watch programme speaks to Grady Johnson of APC’s Internet Rights are Human Rights campaign to get a better understanding of what is at stake. Listen to the interview
Women survivors of domestic violence in Pakistan have long endured twofold abuse – not only at home but by a government that does not protect them. In 2009 there was hope the government would step up to protect women from domestic violence – the National Assembly passed the Domestic Violence (Prevention and Protection) Bill, but the bill expired after the Senate failed to pass it. However, a Pakistani women’s rights organisation is working to reintroduce the bill in parliament – through the use of information and communication technology, and after training from APC.