Enough is Enough: 95 civil society organizations call on the Human Rights Council to urgently launch a ‘Commission of Inquiry’ to investigate violence against protesters in Palestine

Posted on May 18, 2018

In light of the recent mass killing of civilians in occupied Palestine, the undersigned 95 organizations call on the UN Human Rights Council to urgently launch an independent investigation into violations of international human rights and humanitarian law by Israel in the occupied Palestinian territory, occurring in the context of the "March of Great Return" and Nakba protests.

There are currently over seven million Palestinian refugees spread across the globe, including 1.3 million refugees in the Gaza Strip. [1] As the result of decades of dispossession, oppression and violations of international law, including 11 years of unlawful closure and blockade of the Gaza Strip, Palestinians therein and elsewhere in occupied Palestine have embarked on a six week campaign of largely peaceful protests, starting on 30...

Careem’s data breach is criminal negligence

Posted on Apr 25, 2018

ISLAMABAD, (April 25, 2018): The massive security breach at the core system of online regional transportation giant, Careem is alarming in the wake of increasing online service delivery, archival of sensitive personal data pertaining to a large number of customers and looming threats to these datasets.

Careem’s callous attitude towards protecting the private data of its customers is criminal and the authorities should hold the company accountable to ensure safeguarding the privacy of its citizens. This is yet another incident that demonstrates the express need and the importance of data protection and data privacy mechanisms in the country. The situation also calls for the urgent mechanism for pro-people data protection frameworks that create enabling online business environment, where corporations and government authorities are accountable and ensure...

End suppression of media, political expression and academic freedoms in the country

Posted on Apr 18, 2018

April 18, 2018, (Islamabad): Bytes for All, Pakistan is extremely concerned over the recent developments pertaining to suppression of free speech through multi-level state interventions. This aggression against media, freedom of speech, expression and civil liberties is contrary to democratic norms and constitutional provisions.

It is very unfortunate that for a long time, censorship has been toed as a solution to any problems in the country. However, the new wave of censorship is widespread and has been impacting different segments of the society including political parties, academia, conventional media, social media and youth movements.

The nation-wide blackout of the country’s leading news and current affairs channel, Geo News is an open attack on free media in Pakistan. Multiple opinion articles by renowned intellectuals in different newspapers have been barred...

Reflections on the Pakistan Ruling Banning Network Shutdowns

Posted on Apr 18, 2018

In late February 2018, in a landmark judgment, the Islamabad High Court (IHC) ruled that shutting down telecom networks was illegal, rejecting the State’s rationale that security considerations made such shutdowns necessary.

Pakistan has a history of network shutdowns during public gatherings and events. The court termed the shutdowns as ‘illegal’ and ‘inconsistent’ with legal provisions.

For some years now, the prevailing practice in Pakistan has been that citing apprehensions of unforeseen security circumstances, including potential terrorist attacks. The Pakistan Telecommunication Authority (PTA), the country’s telecom regulator, has suspended mobile networks in major cities. In some cases these suspensions have lasted for prolonged durations. The shutdowns are often unannounced.

In 2016, with the help of four citizens, advocate Umer Gillani launched and...

Right to privacy in the digital age

Posted on Apr 16, 2018

A joint civil society response to the Office of the High Commissioner for Human Rights call for input to a report on the right to privacy in the digital age. This response has been jointly drafted by the civil society organisations listed in alphabetical order at the bottom of the submission.

New report: Journos and HRDs increasingly self-censor due to rampant surveillance

Posted on Mar 21, 2018

Islamabad, (March 21, 2018): Mass Surveillance on digital communications of journalists and human rights defenders (HRDs) is resulting in self-censorship in Pakistan, reveals Bytes for All, Pakistan’s new research titled, ‘ Dangers of Digital Surveillance ’.

The report, based on the data collected through a survey and case studies, presents an in-depth alarming account of trends and threats forcing journalists and HRDs to self-censor in carrying out their work. Where digital surveillance reveals the identity of journos and HRDs working on sensitive cases, it also reveals the identity of sources and whistleblowers, whose life and well-being can be under severe threat due to this disclosure.

The report maintains that over 50% of journalists consider digital surveillance as a reason of intimidation for them and credible life threats to their sources....

Oral Statement at the 37th Session of Human Rights Council for adoption of Pakistan’s UPR Outcome Report

Posted on Mar 19, 2018

Mr President, FORUM-ASIA makes this statement in solidarity with Bytes for All Pakistan. We note that Pakistan has accepted 168 out of 289 recommendations.

While we appreciate that a recommendation to intensify efforts at safeguarding freedom of expression [1] was accepted, we regret that a recommendation to protect online freedom was merely noted. [2]

Section 37 of the Prevention of Electronic Crimes Act of 2016 empowers telecommunication regulators to arbitrarily filter or censor ‘objectionable content’, which has restricted online expression, including for religious, sexual, or ethnic minorities. Laws have also been misused to target alleged blasphemers and to block any criticism of the state.

The law provides sweeping powers for the Pakistan Telecommunication Authority...