Mobile and Internet disruption in Lahore
Netblocks.Org observes real time disruptions of mobile networks in Lahore.

Peshawar, 18 July: Bolo Bhi and Digital Rights Foundation (DRF) call on the caretaker government of Pakistan to ensure mobile and digital accessibility, protection of freedom of speech, and the right to association as the country will go to poll on July 25, 2018, says a press release.

They allege that blocking of internet and mobile networks in the run up to and during the General Elections 2018 go against the constitution of Pakistan and argue that Internet shutdowns have not proven to contribute substantial benefits towards national security or against terrorism. In fact, they blame, it promotes chaos among people at the receiving end and it’s the violation of their fundamental right to free speech as guaranteed under Article 19, and the right to information under Article 19-A, which have been also declared illegal by the Islamabad High Court earlier this year.

It further says that Internet has become a primary source of information for the people of Pakistan, as mainstream media also look for news and information at online forums and blogging sites. A graph of the recent mobile networks shutdown in Lahore on July 13, 2018, developed by NetBlocks by measuring the intent of disruption in the city, depicts internet and telecommunications suspension at a time of crisis when access to information was most vital. Both organisations vows
to continue to observe internet connectivity across Pakistan throughout the election period.

They express anger over draconian laws like the Prevention of Electronic Crimes Act (PECA) 2016, alleging it has limited people’s right to free expression in online spaces and other distressing attacks on advocates of the said right.Therefore, they suggest, it is important that the internet and online spaces remain open and accessible without disproportionate barriers in the name of security.

They demanded that protecting the fundamental rights to speech, assembly, and association as promised under the Constitution of Pakistan be held above anything, and suggest that the caretaker government take reasonable on-ground security measures to ensure safety of citizens accordingly instead of cutting off citizens from each other, the press release concluded.