Internet Freedom on Decline in Pakistan

September 22, 2021

An international freedom advocacy and research organization has identified Pakistan as one of the top ten countries in the world where internet freedom is eroding, raising concerns about the country’s proposed rules, which could further erode cyber liberty.

The Washington-based Freedom House published a report titled “Freedom on the Net 2021: The Global Drive to Control Big Tech” in which it detailed cyber freedom in various countries around the world and ranked Pakistan seventh among abusers of internet freedom.

The advocacy group gave reasons and facts for its ranking after weighing various indicators of internet freedom. It used examples from various countries to discuss data sovereignty as an excuse for surveillance, highlighting the situation in Pakistan, where the government has recently introduced new regulations for internet users and service providers.

The report expressed concern about the country’s proposed regulation, which it claimed would have a negative impact on social media companies as well as users. “The proposed rules from Pakistan have sparked concerns about their impact on end-to-end encryption. When the Federal Investigation Agency requests personal data, the draught requires social media companies and service providers with more than 500,000 users to provide it in a decrypted and readable format.According to Freedom House’s key findings, global internet freedom has declined for the 11th year in a row. It went on to say that the worst deteriorations were seen in Myanmar, Belarus, and Uganda, where state forces launched crackdowns.

The report also blamed governments in various parts of the world for clashing with technology companies over user rights, citing at least 48 countries where authorities pursued new content, data, and competition rules for tech companies in the past year.With a few notable exceptions, the push to regulate the tech industry, which in some cases stems from genuine issues such as online harassment and deceptive market practices, is being used to suppress free speech and gain greater access to personal data.

According to the report, Pakistan is one of 24 countries that have taken steps to regulate how platforms handle content, and one of 38 countries that have pursued data management reforms. The findings suggested that internet freedom was under threat around the world, not just in Pakistan.

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