Digital Rights Foundation (DRF) conducted a nationwide survey on the state of security of journalists to shed light on the threats and concerns journalists face online, which runs parallel to the harassment journalists face offline.
This report, titled “Digital (In)Security of Journalists in Pakistan” seeks to map and understand the digital risks that journalists face in Pakistan and suggests policy interventions based on the data collected.
66% of the journalists who participated in the survey responded that they had suffered online insecurity. Journalists face issues of digital security in various ways including blackmail, hacking, threats, sexual harassment, data theft, stalking, and attacks through malware or phishing emails.
The survey was divided in two parts; the ﬁrst part inquired journalists’ understanding of digital security. The second part was only addressed to journalists who had experienced online threats or harassment – 68% of total respondents had faced online threats or harassment, hence proving that the majority is exposed to online insecurity .
The second part of the survey was focused on online harassment and the gendered nature of digital insecurity . 72% of female journalists and 61% of male journalists experienced digital insecurity .
In another question, journalists were asked how online insecurity affected their journalism careers. 45.5% respondents said that online insecurity resulted in self-censorship.
This report further sought to give recommendations to lawmakers with reference to the under-consideration Journalist Protection Bill.
“The first draft of the Bill did not include provisions for the digital security of journalists, thus the aim of this report is to advocate for lawmakers to also consider that journalists be protected online to keep censorship at bay, and to safeguard their mental health, quality of work, physical security of journalists and freedom of the press,” read a statement issued by the Digital Rights Foundation.
The report also found a dire need for organisations to realise the nature of this threat and for them to conduct training for digital security and privacy.