Authorities fail to respond to FOI requests, Bolo Bhi Files Complaint With Federal Ombudsman

For Immediate Release 

Following democratic norms and exercising the citizens’ right to information granted by Article 19-A of the Constitution of Pakistan, the Bolo Bhi team filed Freedom of Information requests under the Freedom of Information Act 2002.

These requests were sent to the Ministry of Information Technology and Telecommunications (MoIT), Pakistan Telecommunications Company Limited (PTCL), and the Pakistan Telecommunications Authority (PTA). Information was requested regarding the installation of filtration and surveillance software, list of blocked websites, the directives issued for blocking of websites by the Inter Ministerial Committee for the Evaluation of Websites (IMCEW).

As per law, the respective authorities are to respond to the freedom of information requests within 21 days of the receipt. However, all three authorities have failed to do so. Therefore, following the next step outlined by the law, Bolo Bhi has filed complaints with the Federal Ombudsman about failure of the respective agencies to respond to the information requests. The Ombudsman now has 30 days to respond to our complaints.

Officials and authorities in Pakistan have time and again failed to uphold the law and follow through with stipulated procedures. It is up to us to come together to pressurise the government to act responsibly and answer the questions posed to them by citizens about practices that do not adhere to democratic norms and constitutional requirements, such as censorship, restriction of citizens’ right to speech and information and invasion of privacy. 

For further information, contact Madiha Latif on research.m@bolobhi.org or Usama Khilji on usama@bolobhi.org

Bolo Bhi means ‘Speak up’, in Urdu. We are a not-for-profit  registered under the Societies Act XXI of 1860. Bolo Bhi is geared towards gender rights, government transparency, internet access, digital security and privacy. We are a team of individuals with diverse backgrounds who are passionate about the same causes and believe it is crucial to bridge the gap between rights advocates, policy makers, media and citizens. It is by bridging this gap that one can move ahead to chart a way forward and resolve issues through consensus.

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