Pakistan Among Ten Worst Countries In Digital Media Freedom

Pakistan Among Ten Worst Countries In Digital Media Freedom
International watchdog Freedom House has declared Pakistan among the ten worst countries in terms of internet and digital media freedom.

The Freedom House released its Freedom on the Net (FoTN) report for the year 2019. The report, titled ‘The Crisis of Social Media’, recorded an overall decline in global internet freedom between June 2019 and May 2019.

The report observed that social media was increasingly being used by governments to manipulate elections and monitor their citizens. It noted that due to this, technology was moving toward digital authoritarianism.

The international watchdog has also declared Pakistan ‘Not Free’ in terms of internet use. Pakistan has been consecutively declared ‘Not Free’ for the past nine years.

In the watchdog’s ranking, the country was placed at 26 out of 100, with 0 being the worst.

Pakistan was placed at 5 out of 25 for obstacles to access, 14 out of 35 for limits on content, and 7 out of 40 for violation of user rights index.

When it comes to regional internet and digital media freedom, Pakistan has emerged as the third worst country, right after Vietnam and China.

The report also stated that there existed election manipulation in Pakistan through informational tactics such as coordinated use of hyper-partisan commentators, bots, or news sites to spread false or misleading content.

When it comes to obstacles to access, the report noted that authorities frequently disrupt telecommunication services during protests, elections, religious and national holidays. It particularly noted that during the 2018 elections, mobile internet services were suspended in parts of Balochistan and all of FATA.

Moreover, the report noted that 800,000 websites hosting political, religious and social content were blocked by the Pakistan Telecommunication Authority, putting restrictions on content in an arbitrary and nontransparent fashion.

The report also noted that online journalists and activists had testified to the presence of state sponsored ‘trolls’ used to silence dissent, manipulate online content, and spread disinformation.

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