Guests: Waqar Sherazi, Researcher & Policy Analyst Hija Kamran, Digital Rights Lead, Media Matters for Democracy Amir Hussain, Researcher & Policy Analyst Host: Aftab Wazir Haider Producer: DWBaig Presentation: High Asia TV
Right to information & freedom of expression in digital space: ================================== The COVID-19 pandemic has posed enormous challenges to the world economy, governance and media, disrupting every stratum of life throughout the globe. The forced social distancing has confined nations to a bubble, forcing them to heavily rely on technology in all walks of life, widening the digital divide, making privacy vulnerable to various surveillance and monitoring mechanisms and providing an opportunity to authoritarian governments to control their population and suppress dissenting view under the garb of security. The internet penetration in Pakistan has increased to 18% of the total population in 2018. While this has opened up new avenues for proactive disclosure of information by public bodies, fresh challenges such as threats to privacy, online harassment, identity theft and surveillance, and hate speech and incitement to violence have also cropped up in digital spaces. An overview of the constitutional provisions pertaining to the right to information and freedom of expression, and recent judgments of Pakistan’s superior judiciary, and the global principles on the protection of freedom of expression and privacy leads one to conclude that these rights are not absolute and that states can restrict them, but only through appropriate legislation. With the proliferation of social media platforms and tools, citizens are increasingly exercising the right to information and express opinions. On the one hand, they have found new avenues to exercise these rights; while, on the other, new challenges are propping up with regard to the exercise of these rights and questionable tactics of law enforcement agencies against people for exercising the right express opinion in digital spaces. To discuss these issues and challenges High Asia TV hosted a series of programmes with experts to offer viable and practicable a solution to the people.