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[liberationtech] Free Speech in Digital Spaces: An Appraisal after Cyber Crime Act 2016

Nighat Dad nighat at
Thu Jan 5 08:13:37 PST 2017

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** Cases of Blasphemy and Implications of Prevention of Electronic Crimes Act 2016 (PECA)

First of all, we wish you a very happy new year. We hope that this year proves to be a wonderful time for digital rights and freedom throughout the world.

Today, we're writing to update you on a very important topic that had our attention for a decent amount of time - Free Speech in Digital Spaces in Pakistan. With the passage of the Prevention of Electronic Crimes Act 2016 (PECA), cases of misuse of the law are slowly emerging.  Criticism of established institutions through Tweets, Facebook posts and activities in digital spaces is landing vocal citizens in trouble. Digital Rights Foundation seeks to play its role as a watchdog against these violations, and this periodical newsletter presents a round-up of the major cases of speech regulation in digital spaces.


The case of 16-year-old Nabeel Masih, whose case was first reported in September 2016. He was charged under Sections 295 and 295-A of the PPC. The bail plea is currently being heard in the trial court. However, his legal team has been harassed and threatened in court.


The case of Shaan Taseer where an FIR has been registered against an “unidentified man” who is Taseer himself. The FIR is under Section 295-B of the PPC. The complaint originates from a video posted on Facebook.


There have also been reports that bloggers have been detained by the FIA posting images of Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif with a PML(N) leader while wrongly attributing him as Justice Saqib Nisar.

There has been no official statement but FIA is the designated authority under the PECA and is acting under the powers given to it under the Act.

Read the full story here ( .

To read about rest of the most recent cases of blasphemy in digital spaces in Pakistan, head over to this story ( by DRF.
Watch the video by DRF on how PECA will affect the civil liberties and freedom of expression of the citizens of Pakistan.

Digital Rights Foundation has worked on issues of blasphemy and has mapped cases on the topic in the past. The map can be accessed here ( .

Alternate link: Mapping the Consequences of the Blasphemy Law ( .

Blasphemy in the Digital Space - A Research Study by Digital Rights Foundation (

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