Safety of individuals and institutions from offending content remains a challenge for the government, experts said during a webinar titled Safe Digital Pakistan organised by Express Media Group.
Protection of citizens on digital platforms is of great importance to the state, they said and called for a collective approach of departments and organisations concerned for progressing towards a safer digital Pakistan.
The webinar was attended by SnackVideo Pakistan Country Manager Naeemuddin Syed, Government of Pakistan Digital Media Wing General Manager Imran Ghazali, Media Matters for Democracy Senior Programme Manager Hija Kamran, artist and digital content creator Ali Gul Pir. E-commerce enterprise Dastgyr General Manager Saif Ali hosted the webinar.
The webinar participants emphasised the need for a collaborative process among all stakeholders to safeguard the digital consumers in Pakistan and make the vision of a safer digital Pakistan possible.
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Speaking at the webinar, Syed said that the responsibility of digital security could not be left to the government alone, and the government cannot do everything alone. “Therefore, to ensure a safer Pakistan, all stakeholders, whether individual or platform, must play their part,” the digital safety expert said.
He said that it was important to understand Pakistan’s social and cultural environment and threats to the online safety of consumers. The role of civil society is also important in this regard. As a responsible platform, he said, “we keep an eye on social changes, the changing trends and likes and dislikes of consumers about safety tools and their preferences.”
He said the SnackVideo team represents every segment of society, including lawyers, journalists, social workers, and experts and through their inputs it has created a unique portal that of digital safety for the government of Pakistan. This portal allows the government and law enforcement agencies to report complaints about the offending content.
This portal, created for the first time in the world, shows the commitment of SnackVideo to Pakistan, Syed said. “We are working in close liaison with the regulators and working within the given guidelines,” he said.
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“We at SnackVideo, one of the biggest short-video platforms in Pakistan, have had a key focus on building a safe and inclusive environment for its users. As the platform grows, our users are finding increasingly diverse and entertaining ways to express themselves, and we believe that a safe environment is essential for continued success,” he said.
Highlighting the government’s role in ensuring digital security in Pakistan, Imran Ghazali said that the government was not in favour of banning digital platforms because restrictions affect the digital ecosystem. Moreover, closure of a digital platform affects creativity. Ghazali said people in villages and small cities were creating digital content which was being viewed across the world, which speaks of the creativity the people of the country have.
He said fraud, harassment, sexual exploitation, and child porn content on digital and social media platforms are challenges for the government. PTA is under pressure due to petitions filed in the courts by parents regarding child porn content on the internet. The government is working to address these sensitive issues through consultation and collaboration with digital platforms.
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The government wants the development of digital platforms and at the same time, wants to ensure the protection of consumers and society.
“We need to understand the difference between regulation and over-regulation,” said Hija Kamran. The problem is not the Internet or social media platforms but the thinking and attitudes of society. “If we can change the attitude and thinking of the society, it will have an impact on the digital world as well,” Hija said.
A video posted online of a woman or a child being harassed on street can have disastrous results for the victims by reaching millions of people through the Internet, she said.
Talking on the issue, Ali Gul Pir said, “I have launched a campaign on internet safety. I made videos that tell people how to ensure their digital safety and advised them not share their data with unrelated people.” Similarly, he said do not pay anyone for unknown calls to avoid incidents of financial fraud. “We need to create training and awareness material for online and digital safety,” he said.