Mobile Network Shutdowns Declared Illegal in Pakistan
26 February 2018.
In a major victory for freedom of expression, the High Court in Islamabad, Pakistan, has found that mobile network shutdowns as carried out by the Pakistani government are illegal. The Court found that such shutdowns are contrary to the provisions of Section 54 of the Pakistan Telecommunication (Re-Organization) Act, which states that the government can exercise this power only when a Proclamation of Emergency has been issued.
The case came before the court thanks to the work of Umer Gilani, of the Law and Policy Chambers in Islamabad. Gilani based his case on IHRB's research report Digital Dangers - The Impacts of Mobile Network Shutdowns, which examined the human rights impacts of mobile network shutdowns in Pakistan. The report, co-authored by Lucy Purdon of IHRB, Arsalan Ashraf from Bytes for All and Dr. Ben Wagner from CIHR, focussed in particular on the network shutdown that took place in Pakistan in March 2015, and detailed the security and human rights implications of that and similar shutdowns.