'Government criticized for blocking cellular services for security' -Pakistan Press Foundation (PPF)

Paksitan Press Foundtion

‘Government criticized for blocking cellular services for security’

Karachi: Bolo Bhi, a not-for-profit organisation, on Friday on strongly protested the government’s decision to block cellular services in 15 cities across the country as a security measure.

Despite announcing a public holiday that included closure of schools, courts and government offices to allow religious and political parties to condemn the disrespectful video peacefully, the government, through the Pakistan Telecommunication Authority (PTA) ordered the suspension of cellular services in major cities of the country, the organisation said in a press release.

“This is not the first time communication has been blocked by means of a kill-switch. The Government has previously resorted to such tactics in Balochistan, Gilgit and other major cities in the country on important occasions such as Eid and Independence Day.

“Bolo Bhi raised the issue with security experts who clarified that kill-switch tactics not only compromise communication rights of citizens but also result in huge security risks themselves – GSM blocking bars tracker services and home security equipment, allowing a field day for criminals. This communication breakdown also takes a toll on health and emergency services.”

Bolo Bhi, an organisation geared towards advocacy, policy and research in the areas of gender rights, government transparency, legislation, Internet freedom, digital security, privacy and empowerment, said there were other, more efficient methods, to counter terrorism without compromising the citizens’ basic rights to access and communication.

“Such measures only create more problems for the citizens. The Government must ensure the right to life, dignity without taking away their basic rights that compromise their security as well as their peace of mind.

“The Government must clarify how such measures serve the purpose of security and it must come up with alternate plans to ensure safety of the citizens without compromising their rights.”

The News