Pakistan is among the top 10 countries in the world where freedom of internet freedom has been on the decline, an international freedom advocacy group has said.
A report by the Washington-based Freedom House titled “Freedom on the Net 2021: The Global Drive to Control Big Tech”, raised concerns over the rules proposed by the country that could further damage cyber liberty , Dawn newspaper reported.
“Pakistan” proposed rules have raised alarms about their impact on end-to-end encryption. The draft requires social media companies and service providers with more than 500,000 users to hand over personal data in a encrypted and readable format when requested by the Federal Investigation Agency,” the report said.
In some cases, such data localisation requirements have been introduced in the context of content regulation, it added.
Pakistan proposed Removal and Blocking of Unlawful Online Content Rules, the latest version of which was published in November 2020, outlines requirements for social media companies to establish one or more data servers in the country,” the report further said.
The Freedom House said global freedom of internet freedom had declined for the 11th consecutive year and the greatest deterioration were documented in Myanmar, Belarus and Uganda.
Back in April, a similar report had noted a dramatic decline in freedom of internet freedom in Pakistan in 2020. The report had said Prime Minister Imran Khan-led government has increased blocking political, social and cultural websites.
The report — ‘Annual Pakistan media legal review 2020’– was launched by the Institute for Research, Advocacy and Development (IRADA), Dawn had reported.
The report had said Pakistan was experiencing major setbacks in the enforcement of digital rights,freedom of expression and right to information — especially in online spaces — through regression in the areas of internet policies and regulations.