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Thursday, May 23, 2024

Digital Rights Advocates Demand Restoration of Social Media Platform X

Human rights organizations, led by Amnesty International, demand the immediate restoration of social media platform X in Pakistan, citing concerns over digital censorship and freedom of expression.

Human rights organizations, led by Amnesty International, are pressing the Pakistan government to restore access to social media platform X, blocked since February 17, following allegations of election rigging by former Rawalpindi commissioner Liaquat Chattha. The ban, imposed after mobile services were cut during the February 8 elections, has sparked concerns about digital censorship and freedom of expression.

Amnesty International and a coalition of 28 civil society organizations have issued a joint statement condemning the prolonged blocking of X, highlighting its impact on political discourse and the free flow of information. They criticize the lack of transparency from the Pakistan Telecommunication Authority (PTA) regarding the ban, calling it a violation of citizens’ rights.

The complete silence from the PTA and the absence of any official explanation for the ban have raised alarm among rights groups. They argue that such arbitrary actions erode trust between the state and its citizens and undermine fundamental freedoms. The throttling of Virtual Private Networks (VPNs) further restricts access to information and violates privacy rights.

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Amnesty International has called on the government to lift the ban on X, repeal censorship-enabling laws like Section 37 of The Prevention of Electronic Crime Act, and act transparently on decisions affecting internet usage. The coalition demands clarification on the legal basis for platform blockages and a commitment to uphold international obligations on freedom of expression.

The ongoing legal battle and public outcry underscore the importance of safeguarding digital rights in Pakistan. As the country grapples with issues of transparency and accountability, restoring access to social media platforms like X is seen as a critical step towards preserving democratic values and ensuring an open exchange of ideas.