The Digital Rights Foundation DRF has reported 189% increase in cyber-harassment complains. During lockdown in Pakistan, against the coronavirus outburst, the cyber harassment helpline of DRF enrolled many cyber complaints.
The helpline registered 136 complains in March and April 2020 during the lockdown. However, before the lockdown in January and February 2020 there were 47 such complaints. It shows that during the lockdown, an increase of 189% cyber harassment cases was reported.
About 74% of the complains were registered by women, 19% complains by men and 5% by non- binary persons
A press release by not-for-profit organisation addressed that, when Pakistan imposed lockdown against the COVID-19 outburst, we were worried that the cyber-attacks, along with cyber harassment cases, will also increase.
The DRF is an organisation that works for equal internet rights and promotes the safe use of the internet among the people, especially for women. During the lockdown, maximum of the cases that the organisations’ helpline received were related to blackmailing through sharing of personal information, intimate pictures and videos
The cyber harassment helpline then analysed the data of months of March and April 2020 by comparing it with the data of January and February 2020 to identify the growth of complaints during the lockdown. It also issued a list of recommendations for policymakers and concerned stakeholders.
These recommendations mainly covered issues of Federal Investigation Agency’s (FIA) availability specifically during the pandemic. It also discusses how we should use technology while speculating digital harassment cases like permitting video testimonies.
According to the organisation, the Pakistani women are underdogs of gendered violence in the digital circle that includes sexual harassment, supervision, spreading and using the personal data illegally and manipulation of personal information.
The summary suggests the government update the online complain system to ensure that the complains can be enlisted and case updates can be obtained practically, ensuring social distancing and reducing physical contact during the investigation process.
The summary also highlights the significance of developing a rapid response cell which can answer to urgent cases immediately where betrayed information may proof harmful for personal safety or cause reputational harms.
It also recommends overview of the performance of investigators, prosecutors and verifiable communication between police stations and cybercrime stations, data protection legislation and better cooperation between the government and civil society organisations that are working on the cybersecurity issues.