Securing Digital Space
The Digital Rights Foundation (DRF) together with the Friedrich Naumann Foundation for Freedom (FNF) in Islamabad organized a workshop on online harassment and challenges to digital security. The workshop aimed at educating young people about cybersecurity and digital rights. Law graduates and law practitioners across genders attended the workshop.
Safoora Savio, a participant of the workshop titled #HamaraInternet (Our Internet) was shocked to learn that WhatsApp could be hacked. She believed that it was a secure means of communication as messages are encrypted end-to-end. However, Irha Parishei, a cyber-security expert and a trainer at the workshop asserted that it’s not just WhatsApp, Facebook, Instagram or any social media that is prone to hacking but emails and bank accounts can be hacked too. She related her own experience as a trans-woman and stated that hacking alone is not the end of this violation of privacy.
Digital spaces blend into our non-digital and offline spaces. Irha Parishei believes that just like our normal environment can have germs one must stay safe from, so does our digital environment. She also spoke about ways of securing digital space starting from basic rules such as creating strong passwords. She highlighted how closed-source apps are more prone to being hacked by stating an analogy to explain difference between open-source and closed-source apps, “If a person is being served food that has been cooked in front of him or her, they will be satisfied as they’ll know what went into the making, but if a person is being served food with ingredients he or she is unaware of, that person will feel hesitant to eat it. Same is the case with apps—in some of them we know how they operate as their data, code, algorithm is posted somewhere we can see”.
The workshop brought together both technical and legal experts to discuss issues and legal means to secure digital space and rights. “We need to be aware of how to use our space online and understand the legal cyber procedures in order to hold the providers responsible”, said Birgit Lamm, Head of Country Office, FNF Pakistan.
Barrister Jannat Ali Kalyar elaborated the point raised by Birgit Lamm by sharing the Prevention of Electronic Crimes Act, Pakistan (PECA 2016). She highlighted important clauses of the Act and the role of Federal Investigation Agency (FIA) and Pakistan Telecommunication Authority (PTA).
Digital Rights Foundation (DRF), based in Lahore, Pakistan, works for victims of online harassment, cyber-crimes, cyber-bullying and data theft. DRF provides legal and psychological help through its toll-free helpline 0800-39393.