KARACHI: Discussing digital privacy at a symposium held on Friday, speakers said while the government had taken a pertinent step by introducing the Personal Data Protection Bill, 2020, there was a need for more consultation as some critical points were missing in the bill.
The event titled ‘Personal data protection & big data analytics: Too little, too late’ was organised by Ziauddin University’s Centre for Law & Technology.
Explaining the concept of personal data protection, Aly Hassam-ul-Haq, director at the Centre for Law & Technology, said it was imperative to have effective knowledge about how to protect digital data since data was being collected virtually at every e-service or platform.
“User data has become more vulnerable than ever. To tackle data breach, various organisations and companies have implemented laws which provide for rules to collect, process and disseminate data in a secured way.”
The federal government, he pointed out, had taken the initiative to provide protection to digital data through the Personal Data Protection Bill, 2020. “This is no doubt a pertinent step towards a better and digitally-secure future for Pakistan.”
Haq has conducted a thorough assessment of the bill, as requested by the ministry of information technology and telecommunication, which included his recommendations.
On the topic of best practices to ensure digital privacy, Areeba Iqbal, a research associate at ZU’s faculty of law suggested that people should be very careful where they click.
“Hackers compromise your online privacy through phishing attempts eg sending fake emails. Make sure to use a passcode to lock your phone, use caution when downloading apps, protect your online privacy, ignore the “About Me” fields in your social media profiles (since these are public), create strong passwords, protect your web browsing, and set up two-factor authentication.”
She also advised that people must not accept app permissions without reading them. “Do not allow app permissions which are non-essential to that app’s function, for example call log/contacts permission for a photo editing app.
“Keep location turned off in your phone when not in use. Use browser extensions such as Ghostery, AdBlock and CookieBlock. Use “registered” (with Pakistan Telecommunication Authority) virtual private network (VPN) to secure digital transmission of data to avoid hacking. Unregistered VPNs are now illegal,” she further added.
Alishba Fazal, a research associate at ZU’s faculty of law, shared details of cases in which personal data of digital users were leaked.
“Pakistan currently has the Data Protection Bill 2020, which focuses on every aspect of how personal data may be protected in Pakistan. Some clauses are still missing, Pakistan needs more transparency in the upcoming law,” she noted.
Rajiv Pardhan working with Love for Data company said we were facing an extremely serious situation in Pakistan where some organisations were illegally using and forwarding the personal data of their clients to other foreign organisations.
“We can easily control data theft and prevent data breach. We only need to stop buying products from that specific market. We need to avoid downloading apps where details of personal data are required,” he said.
Published in Dawn, March 21st, 2021