ISLAMABAD: The number of internet users in Pakistan has increased significantly, but the country lacks laws to monitor illegal use. Given the increase in users, experts have called for effective legislation to deal with emerging issues and threats in the cyber domain.
These were among the points under discussion at a two-day conference titled ‘Pakistan Cyberspace Conference’ concluded on Friday. The conference aimed to open debate on internet freedom, related human rights, the rightful role of the state in governing the internet, and encouraging the masses to participate in internet policymaking in Pakistan.
On the second day of the conference, Pakistan Tehreek-e-Insaaf MNA Dr Arif Alvi said that even leading democracies in the world lack moral ethics when it comes to privacy. “Spying on individuals is being carried out by countries like the United States and others,” Alvi said, regretting that none of the ‘big’ democracies were paying attention to the rights and ethics that already exist.
Alvi said that a large number of the parliamentarians and other officials at key positions were not aware of how email works. “Hardly one or two per cent of parliamentarians know how to use email, and until recently, I was not even allowed to take my laptop on to the National Assembly floor,” he said.
He lamented that when the understanding of cyber technology is limited, one could not expect fair and transparent legislation on the subject. He, however, expressed optimism about effective legislation on cyber crimes and called on all stakeholders to work on an effective bill that addresses the issues of the people and assures their security as well.
In a session on media and the internet, Pak Voices Project Director Fahad Desmukh said that with internet, the cost of publishing has really come down, and the voices of ordinary people reach larger audiences.
On the previous day of the conference, Senate Standing Committee on Defense Chairman Senator Mushahid Hussain Sayed said the issues of cyber warfare and cyber security were of immense importance, and public debates on these topics should be encouraged. He urged the government to devise a governance policy that ensures internet freedom and relates to citizens’ rights.
The senator called upon the government to come up with a transparent alternative to guarantee cyber security in Pakistan.
The conference concluded on a positive note, mentioning that new media has taken its first steps, and in the coming days, it would get more innovative and would expand its audience and ownership.
Published in The Express Tribune, February 28th, 2015.