Pakistan is one of the many countries that has seen a surge in cyberbullying cases due to a shortage of resources and required manpower to handle each case. A few procedural changes due to COVID-19 such as the stay-at-home policy have made it difficult for complainants to visit concerned offices.
According to a report from the Digital Rights Foundation (DRF), as compared to January and February, March and April saw an increase of 189 percent in complaints registered with DRF’s Cyber Harassment Helpline. In terms of numbers, 136 complaints were received during March and April, compared to 47 in January and February 2020.
When the country entered its first lockdown in response to the pandemic outbreak, the DRF surmised the possibility of an increase in cyber-harassment cases.
In a succinct breakdown of the report, the complaints were registered under the following categories:
- Defamation: 4%
- Hate speech: 1%
- Fake profiles: 4%
- Blackmailing: 18%
- Unsolicited contact: 17%
- Non-consensual: 18%
- Threat: 13%
- Phishing: 7%
The majority of these complaints came from Lahore and other areas of Punjab by those aged between 20-25 years.
Pakistan needs better technical expertise in digital forensics and investigation, and a case management system to be introduced in the relevant wings to bring the number of cases down. Setting examples would be the key if Pakistani authorities intend to control the evil.