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Privacy. Source: g4ll4is on FlickrPrivacy. Source: g4ll4is on Flickr

The proposed Prevention of Electronic Crimes Bill poses serious threats to freedom of expression and privacy in Pakistan. To challenge it, a Charter of Demands has been developed by Bytes for All Pakistan, Media Matters for Democracy, and supporting organisations, APC among them.

The charter rejects the understanding of security in the context of national security only, which disregards personal security and protection, and insists on focusing on human rights and citizens’ protection in the legislative process. It asks the government to review the draft with full consideration of the human rights framework, ensuring basic protections for citizens, strengthening data protection clauses in the bill, and developing an action plan that includes experts on digital rights.

The charter is the latest in a series of advocacy efforts to prevent the Prevention of Electronic Crimes Bill from being tabled in the Parliament in its current form. Civil society organisations including ARTICLE 19, Human Rights Watch, Privacy International, Digital Rights Foundation and APC recently released a joint statement to urge members of the Senate of Pakistan to take a stand against the bill.

The Prevention of Electronic Crimes Bill 2015 was approved by the Standing Committee on IT on 16 April, and is all set to be tabled in the Parliament. While there are claims of civil society consultations, the original draft was not shared with either the media or activists.

Read also: Deconstructing Prevention of Electronic Crimes Bill 2015 – “Chapter II Offences and Punishments” – Part 1 – written by Media Matters for Democracy