LAHORE: Lately, the Pakistani government has raised hackles over its surveillance policies of social media. Although Pakistan is not the only country to have strict monitoring of social media platforms, as governments in countries like Turkey and Russia have set new bars for monitoring the content posted by users on social media, covert surveillance programmes are no longer covert in their literal sense. However, many times the fine difference between surveillance and right to privacy has been blurred. Not just the terror suspects, ordinary citizens too are vulnerable to observation tactics of the law-enforcement agencies. In an age, where the freedom of expression and the right to privacy are the most stressed upon and celebrated human right, online espionage conducted on ordinary citizens stands completely contradictory to it.
As the terror threats have evolved overtime, the need for stricter reconnaissance cannot be denied, yet the bypassing of the international law and regulations regarding the right to privacy isn’t justified either. Moreover, a recent study conducted in the UK has shown that more than half of the data collected to avert potential terror threats proved useless to draw a plausible connection between the suspects and the terror acts committed in different regions.
The Pakistani government must make its laws in alignment with international laws and regulations on surveillance and censorship, and allow the unrestrained flow of information and opinions.
Published in The Express Tribune, September 26th, 2017.