Freedom House’s annual report place the Pakistan country among 10 worst places for internet freedom.
The pakistan government always attempts to tighten its grip on the internet and the information superhighwa. There are such a series of controversial laws and policies has placed Pakistan second straight year
among the lowest countries for net freedom.
The Prevention of Electronic Crimes Act Pakistan (PECA) 2016, which seems to have done little to improve the state of internet access , which opening up contents and upholding rights of citizens to use the internet in pakistan.
According to the “Freedom on the Net 2016” report issue by Washington DC America based on activist group Freedom House, Pakistan is down to ranked 10th position just above the likes of Bahrain and Saudi Arabia.
The annual report Fredom of internet 2016 gives Pakistan a score of 69 out of 100 (with 100 the worst score) and Pakistan country is included in the ‘not free’ category.
Over the past five years, Pakistan score was 55 in 2011 and fell to 69 in 2014 and has remained stagnant since. The scores are marked with three key areas which is
1- access to internet.
2-restrictions on accessing certain content.
3- violations of a user’s rights.
In this regard, the report pointed two separate cases, two men were sentenced to 13 years in prison for promoting religious or sectarian hatred online on social media.
After that a political activist was charged by Peshawar police for tweets regarding a judge’s relative an sentence court case.
Barriers to Internet preventing Pakistan’s digital revolution highly highlited.
With internet freedom in the country “repressive” in pakistan. The worst scores attributed to Pakistan were for the greater restrictions placed on content online as well as on blocked pornography website and violations of rights.
While the report noted that restoration of YouTube in 2016, blocked for nearly four years owing to a sacrilegious film which hurts muslim religious, through a localised domain was positive, it said that people will feared that “YouTube Pakistan would be subject to stricter censorship than its international counterpart”.
This fear was not helped Pakistan by the fact that Pakistan enacted policy and laws which granted sweeping powers to the Pakistan Telecommunication Authority (PTA) to “monitor and manage content of internent and telecommunication”.
This was done first and through the Telecommunication Policy 2015 and then further reinforced through and the Prevention of Electronic Crimes Act 2016 passed in August which grants PTA the powers law says “issue directions for removal or blocking of access of any information through any information system” which runs a foul of and good of “the glory of Islam or the integrity, security and defense of Pakistan”.
The same report noted that a “lack of transparency extends to content affected by censorship”.that is a good sign of act.
“There are no published guidelines outlining why content is blocked or how to appeal. "Which i think a good and bad both sowing resulrts" Individuals and groups can also initiate censorship by petitioning courts to enact moral bans on online or traditional media content,” which is added inthe report by america.
Pakistan’s average internet speed increased by 150% in 2016, and furher going to 5g mobile internet soon.
A Good example was how in January 2016 PTA sent a list of 429 websites to internet services providers with directions to block them at the domain level to stop access to a common man. While a bulk of the websites were pornography websites which a court had ordered the authority to block them, the list contained a number of legitimate websites as well also blocked.
“The manner in which the list of websites has been vetted to avoid non-pornographic and websites from being blocked has not been made clear to the public in pakistan” the report also said.
“Pakistan has ranked low for five consecutive years because of the repressive block of internet laws in the country,” said Nighat Dad.
The executive director of Digital Rights Foundation (DRF).she also added in the report.