Feb 032012
 February 3, 2012  Posted by  Laws, Non-U.S.

Thanks to Dave Banisar of Article19.0rg for alerting me to their analysis of the Pakistan Telecommunications (Re-organisation) Act. 

From the Executive Summary:

In January 2012, ARTICLE 19 has analysed the provisions of the Pakistan Telecommunications (Re-organisation) Act, 1966 (the Act) to assess their compatibility with international standards relating to the rights to freedom of expression and information and privacy. ARTICLE 19 finds the Act has many provisions which are incompatible with Pakistan’s obligations under international law and violate citizens’ rights of freedom of expression, access to information and protection of privacy.

As a general matter, the Act gives broad, largely unrestricted powers to the Government of Pakistan to issue policy statements and regulations in the name of protecting national security. These provisions provide few limitations on the ability of the government to issue directives and orders in violation of freedom of expression and privacy rights.

In addition, the Act criminalises vague and broad offenses, banning the dissemination of “false” or fabricated” information, as well as indecent materials and causing “mischief.”

Furthermore, the Act allows for the shutdown of communications both individually with a vague warning, and in broader cases, based on a decree by the government of potentially the entire telecommunications networks.

Finally, there are significant problems with the broad powers of surveillance given under the Act. It allows for the interception of communications with little or no regulation or oversight. It also places restrictions on the use of encryption by users to prevent unlawful interception of their communications. These create a significant chilling effect on telecommunications users’ ability to seek and receive information.

Read the full report for more of their analysis and their recommendations.

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