Social media: Babar urges govt not to misuse CCL against activists -Pakistan Press Foundation (PPF)

Paksitan Press Foundtion

Social media: Babar urges govt not to misuse CCL against activists

Pakistan Press Foundation

ISLAMABAD: The increasing misuse by the state of the Cyber Crime Law (CCL) as evidenced in the intimidation and harassment of social media activists for allegedly criticising national security policies is a matter of serious concern and must be stopped.

In a statement Sunday, spokesperson Senator Farhatullah Babar said that the misuse and overuse of blanket orders issued last week by the Interior Ministry to take action against social media platforms in the name of national security is not acceptable.

It is disturbing that in a short span of time nearly one thousand cases have been registered against social media platforms. In addition provisions of the cyber crime legislation have been arbitrarily interpreted to impose new restrictions on the right to freedom of expression in the name of national security, he said.

He said that freedom of expression was already under threat from non-state actors in the name of faith and ideology and by preventing discussion on misapplication of faith related laws. It was now increasingly threatened by the state also in the name of ‘national security’ disregarding freedom of expression guaranteed under Article 19 of the Constitution.

Silencing political dissent in the name of security or ideology is not acceptable, he said.

There is also need for appropriate legislation under Article 19 so that freedom of expression was not unduly stifled behind vague and undefined terminology. Publicly voicing concerns about national security narrative of the state is not undermining the security. On the contrary, by presenting alternate opinions it strengthens national security and should be welcomed, he said.

It is unfortunate that the government has chosen to respond to increasing opposition to its policies by stifling dissent in the name of national security.

The policy of clamping curbs on social media platforms and freedom of expression is undemocratic, against the Constitution and is counterproductive and must be reversed.—PR

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